Name Games with the USDA

By: Doreen Hannes

Doreen HannesBio

Doreen Hannes is the Director of Research for the National
Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (NICFA)
and is dedicated to weeding through the lies, half truths, and mis- and disinformation to
help people to understand the methods and propaganda being used to manipulate us….and to dig for the truth. As -civil-ization is predicated upon agriculture, the goal of those who would be our masters is to control the land, control the food, and thereby control the people….otherwise known as the global implementation of  Agenda 21. If we lose our ability to feed ourselves, we will not be able to fight against anything else. Doreen blogs at Truth
Farmer
and you can listen to her radio show, Truth Farmer, at Liberty News Radio and read her articles at News with Views.

On May 11th, the USDA held the first of three public meetings on their “New
NAIS” program “Animal Disease Traceability”. The meeting began
at 8am with three power point presentations. California State Veterinarian,
Dr. Richard Breitmeyer gave the first presentation. This was the same presentation
he gave at the mid-March NIAA (National Institute of Animal Agriculture) meeting,
also held in Kansas City.

A little history is in order to understand the progression of this idea
for animal traceability. In the US, the first notable plan for identifying
animals was the NFAIP, along with FAIR, those being the National Farm Animal
Identification Program and Farm Animal Identification and Records. Then under
the Bush Administration there was the United States Animal Identification
Plan, with the NAIS, National Animal Identification System hot on it’s heels.
Now, they have “killed” NAIS, but are moving forward with the Animal
Disease Traceability plan, the ADT. The main difference here is that the USDA
is going to make a rule on the ADT to prescribe the “performance standards” for
traceability that the states MUST meet to engage in interstate commerce with
the ADT.

Breitmeyer’s presentation focused on the difficulties around tracing the
contacts of tubercular (and suspect) cattle in the state of California and
other states without the aid of an interoperable database covering all animals
and all movements. According to his presentation, the state of California
has approximately 57,500 known live cattle imports from Mexico per year. This
is significant in that more than 75% of all tuberculosis in cattle is of Mexican
origin. Breitmeyer lamented that when he began as a vet 25 years ago, the
US had nearly eliminated TB except for in small areas of northern Michigan
and northern Minnesota where the soil make up continues to keep TB in the
wildlife and therefore occasionally in cattle. Breitmeyer’s presentation was
actually quite a good illustration of many of the failed policies of the USDA
in disease control, the lack of quarantine at the borders chief among them.
Of course, he is a proponent of a NAIS style system because having all that
data available would make his job easier…At least on paper.

The second presentation was given by a very soft-spoken APHIS/VS (Veternary
Services) representative, Dr. TJ Mayer. He stressed that the “theme” for
the development of the “new” program is “collaboration”.
Those to be affected must be involved in the process of developing the solution
for the lack of traceability that now exists— particularly in cattle. Cattle
are the primary focus for this new plan, and the methodology for bringing
cattle to 95% traceability back to the point of identification in 2 business
days is dependent on “collaboration” in developing the processes
in our states. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) Mayer also illustrated that
the desired traceability would be implemented gradually through partnerships
of stakeholders and building upon the requirements outlined in the rule that
is to be developed for criteria that states must meet for interstate commerce.

The third presentation was by Becky Brewer (Oklahoma State Vet) and the
apparent lead member of the newly established “Regulatory Working Group”.
Dr. Brewer related the thinking of the Regulatory Working Group on the measurable
outcomes of the ‘traceability’ standards to arrive at 95% of “all” animals
traced back to the ‘traceability unit’ within 2 business days. Sounds just
like the NAIS Business Plan, doesn’t it? Brewer stated, “In government
speak, “all” doesn’t mean all.” This may explain why the USDA
kept insisting that when opponents of NAIS cited documents verbatim, we were “spreading
misinformation”. Evidently the English language is a linguistic and statistical
anomaly in the hands and mouths of bureaucrats.

There were no question and answer sessions after the presentations. Instead
every table was given a USDA facilitator and three segments of questions to
answer regarding how we might achieve the desired outcome of getting animals
id’d back to the ‘traceability unit’ within their timeframes. The tables were
marked with species placards and there were at least five cattle tables, three
swine, two poultry, one sheep and goat, and one “other species”.

When I entered the room I noticed that Kenny Fox of R CALF USA was at a
cattle table and I failed to notice the “other species” table so
I sat at the sheep and goat table. There were no people at the poultry tables.
The cattle tables were quite full, and all of the reporters were sitting at
the ‘other species’ table, so I thought I would just sit at the empty sheep
and goat table.

When the facilitating began, I was blessed with three USDA representatives
at my table, where all the other tables only had one. I shared the table with
one sheep broker from New Mexico. He deals in 20 to 30,000 head of sheep annually
mostly exported to Mexico and was quite content with the Scrapie program.
This program identifies breeding animals back to the flock of origin with
a number assigned to the flock manager and not the land the animals are held
on. It also allows for tattoos as an alternate form of official id for interstate
commerce, and does not use RFID tags, although it could in the future.

The USDA representatives at my table were not particularly interested in
hearing about how the failed agricultural policies have created a problem
that the USDA would now like all of us to ‘partner’ with them to solve. They
did take copious notes, and were quite proficient in ‘mirroring’ my statements
while slightly adjusting them to fit their desired outcome more handily.

At the end of each of the three segments, a representative from each table
stood and gave the ‘report’ from the table on that segment. The consensus
of the cattle groups were that only breeders should be identified, RFID tags
should be avoided, back tags should continue to be used for feeders and slaughter
cows, and a NAIS styled system would not work at all.

The USDA is currently promoting the use of ‘bright’ tags for cattle. These
are very similar to brucellosis tags in numbering and appearance. However,
when the only question and answer segment of the day took place and Neil Hammerschmidt
(one of the main authors of NAIS) gave most of the answers, he made it clear
that the USDA still wants to ‘aggressively’ pursue the use of 840 tags.

The bottom line about the entire meeting is that the USDA will try to have
a draft rule ready in June from the “Regulatory Working Group”.
This rule will define the “performance standards” that are to be
met by the states to engage in interstate commerce. The USDA plans to publish
this proposed rule in November or December of 2010, allow a 90-day comment
period, and finalize the rule (make it law) from 8-10 months after the comment
period is complete. There may be different requirements under these performance
standards by species, and some potentially exempted sectors or movements.
There is admitted concern from the USDA and their friends that incentives
and disincentives for states must be expressed clearly and not be too “heavy
handed”. In other words, if a state meets compliance levels in hogs and
not cattle, the hogs should not be refused access to interstate commerce.

It appears to me that we must proactively engage our state legislators
to statutorily define requirements for interstate livestock movement and not
allow the Departments of Agriculture the leeway to cooperate with the USDA
to achieve the goals of the USDA as those goals are still NAIS oriented. The
USDA will not dismantle the National Premises Repository although Hammerschmidt
stated that if a state were to want to withdraw all of their participants,
they could do so. Also, according to Hammerschmidt, they still want to move
‘aggressively’ to 840 tags as official identification along with electronic
Certificates of Veterinary Inspection.

The onus of implementing the graduated Animal Disease Traceability program
rests squarely on the individual states. Either the states will define those
standards statutorily or the USDA will bring about their final desires incrementally
through the regulatory process.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FDA Raids Amish Farmer Dan Allgyer

FDA Raids Amish Farmer Dan Allgyer
Please take action (see ACTION at end of notice)

Kinzers, PA-At 4:30 a.m. on Tuesday April 20, Amish farmer Dan Allgyer went outside to begin milking his small herd of dairy cows.  On the normally quiet Kinzer Road in front of his farm, just a few miles from the Nickel Mines Amish massacre of 2006, several unfamiliar vehicles drove slowly past.  Two months prior, on February 4, FDA agents had trespassed on Allgyer’s farm, claiming to be conducting an “investigation.”  Allgyer had suspected they would be back at some point, because many other small dairy farms around the country have been similarly treated by the FDA. Following is Dan’s account of Tuesday morning’s events:

I became aware of the cars as soon as I walked out on the sidewalk as part of my morning routine around 4:30 a.m. and immediately said to myself something is going on, there is too much traffic on Kinzer Road.  I was watching and noticed three cars were cruising down Kinzer Road right behind each other, and immediately thought, hey, that looks like trouble. I watched and pretty soon one car came back and parked on my neighbor’s farm, on private property, just as the FDA agents had when they came on my property in February; it was exactly the same place.

A couple minutes later, the other two cars pulled up and joined the first on my neighbor’s property, where the occupants appeared to be in conference with one another. Shortly after that, they turned their headlights on and drove in my lane – this would have been at about 5:00.

I stood back in the dark barn to see what they were going to do. They drove past my two Private Property signs, up to where my coolers were, with their headlights shining right on them. They all got out of their vehicles – five men all together – with big bright flashlights they were shining all around. My wife and family were still asleep. When they couldn’t find anybody, they prepared to knock on the door of my darkened house. Just before they got to the house I stepped out of the barn and hollered at them, then they came up to me and introduced themselves. Two were from the FDA, agent Joshua C. Schafer who had been there in February and another. They showed me identification, but I was too flustered to ask for their cards. I remember being told that two were deputy U.S. Marshals and one a state trooper. They started asking me questions right away.  They handed me a paper and I didn’t realize what it was. Agent Joshua C. Schafer told me they were there to do a “routine inspection.” At 5:00 in the morning, I wondered to myself? “Do you have a warrant?” I asked, and one of them, a marshal or the state policeman, said, “You’ve got in your hand buddy.” I asked, “What is the warrant about?” Schafer responded, “We have credible evidence that you are involved in interstate commerce.”

They wanted me to answer some questions, my name, middle initial, last name, wanted to know how many cows we have on the farm. I answered those questions and some more. Finally, I got over my initial shock and said I would not be answering any more questions. They said O.K., we’ll get on with the “inspection.”

I went to go talk to my wife. As I walked away, they held a quick excited conversation and I heard one of them say, “I’ll take care of him.” At that point, apparently, they had designated one of the marshals to stick close to me and dog my footsteps. He followed me as I walked toward the house. I went in the house quickly and told my wife a few words to let her know the situation, then immediately came back out of the house before the marshal had time to follow me in. When I came back out, they were inspecting all the coolers sitting out. They spent about a half hour digging through the packed coolers filled with milk and other food – all private property – taking pictures.

At one point during the cooler inspection the state trooper said to me, “You have a nice farm.” I responded, “We’re trying to be sustainable, but they don’t want to let us.”

While they inspected the coolers, I read the warrant. Among other things it said that any search was to be conducted “at reasonable times during ordinary business hours.” When I exclaimed, “Ordinary business hours!” and pointed this out to the marshal who was dogging me, he said, “Ordinary business hours for agriculture start at 5:00 a.m.” I challenged him that the warrant does not say agriculture hours, it said ordinary hours. He replied, “That’s what the government told us.”

Then they started looking around, as though in search of something in particular. They went up to one door that had a clear No Trespassing sign on it, specifically including government agents, and they did not go in the room, though they shone their flashlights around in it. Then they asked me, “What is on the other side of the door in that [same] room?” Agent Joshua Schafer asked this. I looked him in the eye and did not answer. When they saw I was not going to answer, the other FDA agent said, “Okay, come on,” to agent Schafer, and they went into the room and through the closed door on the opposite side. I had another one of those signs on my walk-in cooler adjacent to my freezer, so they went through that door also. They spent probably another half hour rooting around, like a couple of pigs, in the freezer and cooler area and took many pictures.

When they came out, they asked me where I keep my containers and jugs for milk, and I refused to tell them. I figured they could look for themselves. Then they were walking all over the farm, checking everything out, everything except the house. Agent Joshua Schafer even opened my dumpster and inspected inside it, as though he thought I was hiding something in it. At that point I went and started milking my cows – it was way past milking time.

When I was just about done milking, Schafer and the other agent came in the barn and wanted me to answer some more questions. I told them I would not. The second agent said, “Are you gong to deliver those coolers to Bethesda and Bowie Maryland?” I just looked at him. Then Schafer made a gesture and said, “The stickers with those towns names are on the coolers,” as through to say, you might as well tell me.

I replied, “I told you I won’t answer any questions.” After that they said, “We are done for today. You’ll be hearing back from headquarters.”

Then they got in their car and left. The state trooper and the marshals had left already.

They came in the dark, shining bright flashlights while my family was asleep, keeping me from milking my cows, from my family, from breakfast with my family and from our morning devotions, and alarming my children enough so that they first question they asked my wife was, “Is Daddy going to jail?”

THE NEXT MORNING Allgyer received an overnight, extremely urgent Letter of Warning from the FDA stating that “Failure to make prompt corrections could result in regulatory action without further notice. Possible actions include seizure and/or injunction.”

ACTION: Please call and write the number and address below. Express yourself. Tell them that you support Dan Allgyer. If you drink fresh, unpastuerized milk tell them that. Tell them that more people every day are drinking fresh milk and this is going to increase. It’s not going to stop no matter how many farmers they persecute. Tell them the government has no place between individuals and the farmers from whom they get their food.

Philadelphia District Office
Serves Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Food and Drug Administration
U.S. Customhouse
Second and Chestnut Streets, Room 900
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 597-4390 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (Eastern time)

Yours for real food freedom,
Deborah Stockton, Executive Director
National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (NICFA)
nicfa@earthlink.net
http://www.nicfa.com

Our purpose is to promote and preserve unregulated direct farmer-to-consumer trade
that fosters availability of locally grown or home-produced food products.
NICFA opposes any government funded or managed National Animal Identification System.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

How it’s Made: High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)

How it’s Made: High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is produced by processing corn starch to yield glucose, and then processing the glucose to produce a high percentage of fructose. First, cornstarch is treated with alpha-amylase to produce shorter chains of sugars called polysaccharides. Alpha-amylase is industrially produced by a bacterium, usually Bacillus sp It is purified and then shipped to HFCS manufacturers.Next, an enzyme called glucoamylase breaks the sugar chains down even further to yield the simple sugar glucose. Unlike alpha-amylase, glucoamylase is produced by Aspergillus, a fungus, in a fermentation vat where one would likely see little balls of Aspergillus floating on the top The third enzyme, glucose-isomerase, is very expensive. It converts glucose to a mixture of about 42 percent fructose and 50-52 percent glucose with some other sugars mixed in. While alpha-amylase and glucoamylase are added directly to the slurry, pricey glucose-isomerase is packed into columns and the sugar mixture is then passed over it. Inexpensive alpha-amylase and glucoamylase are used only once, glucose-isomerase is reused until it loses most of its activity. There are two more steps involved. First is a liquid chromatography step that takes the mixture to 90 percent fructose. Finally, this is back-blended with the original mixture to yield a final concentration of about 55 percent fructose–what the industry calls high fructose corn syrup.HFCS has the exact same sweetness and taste as an equal amount of sucrose from cane or beet sugar but it is obviously much more complicated to make, involving vats of murky fermenting liquid, fungus and chemical tweaking, all of which take place in one of 16 chemical plants located in the Corn Belt. Yet in spite of all the special enzymes required, HFCS is actually cheaper than sugar. It is also very easy to transport–it’s just piped into tanker trucks. This translates into lower costs and higher profits for food producers. Why It’s Bad Besides the way it’s made, there’s a couple of other murky things that consumers should know about HFCS. According to a food technology expert, two of the enzymes used, alpha-amylase and glucose-isomerase, are genetically modified to make them more stable. Enzymes are actually very large proteins and through genetic modification specific amino acids in the enzymes are changed or replaced so the enzyme’s “backbone” won’t break down or unfold. This allows the industry to get the enzymes to higher temperatures before they become unstable. Consumers trying to avoid genetically modified foods should avoid HFCS But there’s another reason to avoid HFCS. Consumers may think that because it contains fructose–which they associate with fruit, which is a natural food–that it is healthier than sugar. A team of investigators at the USDA, led by Dr. Meira Field, has discovered that this just ain’t so. Sucrose is composed of glucose and fructose. When sugar is given to rats in high amounts, the rats develop multiple health problems, especially when the rats were deficient in certain nutrients, such as copper. The researchers wanted to know whether it was the fructose or the glucose moiety that was causing the problems. So they repeated their studies with two groups of rats, one given high amounts of glucose and one given high amounts of fructose. The glucose group was unaffected but the fructose group had disastrous results. The male rats did not reach adulthood. They had anemia, high cholesterol and heart hypertrophy–that means that their hearts enlarged until they exploded. They also had delayed testicular development. Dr. Field explains that fructose in combination with copper deficiency in the growing animal interferes with collagen production. (Copper deficiency, by the way, is widespread in America.) In a nutshell, the little bodies of the rats just fell apart. The females were not so affected, but they were unable to produce live young. “The medical profession thinks fructose is better for diabetics than sugar,” says Dr. Field, “but every cell in the body can metabolize glucose. However, all fructose must be metabolized in the liver. The livers of the rats on the high fructose diet looked like the livers of alcoholics, plugged with fat and cirrhotic.” HFCS contains more fructose than sugar and this fructose is more immediately available because it is not bound up in sucrose. Since the effects of fructose are most severe in the growing organism, we need to think carefully about what kind of sweeteners we give to our children. Fruit juices should be strictly avoided–they are very high in fructose–but so should anything with HFCS. Interestingly, although HFCS is used in many products aimed at children, it is not used in baby formula, even though it would probably save the manufactueres a few pennies for each can. Do the formula makers know something they aren’t telling us? Pretty murky! Among other consequences, HFCS has been implicated in elevated blood cholesterol levels and the creation of blood clots. It has been found to inhibit the action of white blood cells so that they are unable to defend the body against harmful foreign invaders.8 This is the first step for glucose to enter a cell and be metabolized. As a result, the body needs to pump out more insulin to handle the same amount of glucose.21 Fructose reduces the affinity of insulin for its receptor, which is the hallmark of type-2 diabetes. Fructose interacts with oral contraceptives and elevates insulin levels in women on “the pill.” 17 Because it is metabolized by the liver, fructose does not cause the pancreas to release insulin the way it normally does. Fructose converts to fat more than any other sugar. This may be one of the reasons Americans continue to get fatter. Fructose raises serum triglycerides significantly. As a left-handed sugar, fructose digestion is very low. For complete internal conversion of fructose into glucose and acetates, it must rob ATP energy stores from the liver.21 Not only does fructose have more damaging effects in the presence of copper deficiency, fructose also inhibits copper metabolism–another example of the sweeteners double-whammy effect. A deficiency in copper leads to bone fragility, anemia, defects of the connective tissue, arteries, and bone, infertility, heart arrhythmias, high cholesterol levels, heart attacks, and an inability to control blood sugar levels.22 . It is almost certainly made from genetically modified corn and then it is processed with genetically modified enzymes. I’ve seen some estimates claiming that virtually everything–almost 80 percent–of what we eat today has been genetically modified at some point. Since the use of HFCS is so prevalent in processed foods, those figures may be right.

Tags: , , , ,

Libertarian Farmers Lobby Against S. 510

by Helena Bottemiller | Mar 13, 2010

It is not every day you find Amish farmers serving raw milk in the U.S. Senate. But this week a group of libertarian, small, sustainable, organic farmers were serving up the unpasteurized milk–which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deems dangerous–to Senate staff and local food advocates as part of an effort to push back against pending federal food safety regulations.

Raw Jersey Cow Milk from Amish Farms, Pennsylvania being served in the Dirksen Senate office building.

Raw Jersey Cow Milk from Amish Farms, Pennsylvania being served in the Dirksen Senate office building.

The National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (NICFA), whose mission is to “promote and preserve unregulated direct farmer-to-consumer trade,” organized a lobby day Wednesday to rally opposition to the Senate FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510), a bill that would increase FDA inspections of food facilities and give the agency mandatory recall authority.

It is unclear exactly how or where NICFA fits into the lobbying scene. Most food policy experts inside the beltway know very little about the organization, and many characterize NICFA as a fringe group. The National Sustainable Agriculture Association (NSAC), an active force for sustainable agriculture in DC, doesn’t work with NICFA.

“We’re not working with them on anything, including food safety,” NSAC spokeswoman Aimee Witteman told Food Safety News in an email. “I don’t know much about them other than their opposition to National Animal ID. My sense is that they’re fundamentally opposed to any new food safety legislation–aren’t interested in trying to improve the food safety regime while also making it more targeted on the riskiest practices.”

It is also unclear how any members NICFA has or who exactly funds the organization. Many food policy insiders suspect the Weston A. Price foundation, a non-profit proponent of raw milk and whole foods, gives the group financial support. A spokesperson for NICFA said the group is funded exclusively through private donations but declined to provide any details.

Curious as NICFA may be, their reception on Wednesday had some libertarian star power. Former presidential candidate and small government hero Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) kicked off the reception with his usual stump speech and Joel Salatin, a farmer-turned-celebrity, for his appearance in best-selling Omnivore’s Dilemma and Oscar-nominated Food, Inc., emceed the event.

Joel Salatin, of Polyface Farms (seated), and Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX). Photos by Helena Bottemiller.

Salatin, a self-described “Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-lunatic farmer,” fired off a number of clever sound bites to his audience, which appeared to be mostly NICFA members.

“When the government gets between my lips and my food, I call that invasion of privacy,” said Salatin. “By what science is feeding your kids Twinkies, Ho-ho cakes, and Mountain Dew safe–but raw milk, homemade pickles, and compost-grown tomatoes are dangerous?”

“Our nation has the lowest per capita food expenditure, but the highest per capita health care expenditure of any developed nation,” he said. “Welcome to safe, deadly food.”

Though the event piqued the curiosity of many food policy wonks, no one seems concerned NICFA’s efforts could derail S. 510, a bill that enjoys broad, bipartisan support, but has yet to be scheduled for a vote.

David Gumpert, a health blogger and author of The Raw Milk Revolution who also spoke at the reception, indicated on his blog this week that the response to NICFA’s message was hard to gauge.

“My meetings with congressional aides were pleasant, but difficult to assess,” wrote Gumpert. “This seemed a fairly common reaction among other citizen lobbyists. Maybe the most encouraging thing about the aides I met was that they seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say.”

“Most discouraging was that the aides seemed not to know very much about key problems in the food safety legislation–the absence of significant exemptions for the smallest food producers and farms, the huge financial burden imposed by the requirement for HACCP (hazard analysis critical control point) plans, and the imposition of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) standards on farmers,” he added.

Consumer and public health advocates have been insisting for months that though they are open to “scale-appropriate” food safety regulations, no food grower or processor should be exempt from the food safety system.

“We do have issues with anything that provides any blanket exemptions,” Sandra Eskin, director of the food safety campaign with The Pew Charitable Trusts, recently told Food Safety News. Pew is a key member of the Make Our Food Safe coalition (MOFS), a broad coalition of consumer, public health, and industry groups pushing for the passage of S. 510.

“Food should be safe regardless of its source — big processor, small farm, conventional operation or organic grower,” said Eskin.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Judge dismisses registration case against Amish farmer

By Jake MillerMarshfield News-Herald • March 11, 2010

The state is expected to appeal a Clark County judge’s ruling that allows an Amish man to continue to operate his farm without registering livestock in accordance to law, state assistant veterinarian Paul McGraw said.

Judge Jon Counsell issued a nine-page ruling Tuesday afternoon ordering the court to dismiss the charge filed against Emanuel Miller, 29, of Loyal in October 2008 for failing to comply with the state’s 2005 mandatory livestock registration law. It was the first case involving an Amish farmer challenging the state’s registration law.

The Amish believe the registration’s use of numbers is the first step in moving closer to the “Mark of the Beast,” referenced in the Bible’s book of Revelations and believed to be associated with Satan.

Proponents of the law say the registration allows officials to quickly track animals that could be impacted by a disease outbreak, McGraw said. Wisconsin’s department of agriculture continues to stand behind its belief that mandatory registration is beneficial to tracking disease, despite the court’s ruling, he said.

“I’m not sure there will be a huge impact at this point,” McGraw said of the ruling. “The department is likely to appeal. Everyone still needs to register their livestock.”

Miller testified that if he participated in the registration, he would risk eternal damnation, a statement supported by his community’s leader, Bishop Noah Schwartz.

In a brief filed Dec. 22, the state argued that a premises registration number is no different from other numbers, such as addresses. Only three states have mandatory registration, while 47 have voluntary registration, McGraw said.

However, Counsell wrote in his ruling that the number is just one part of Miller’s concern. It also requires him to put his faith in government, not God, which goes against Amish beliefs.

Registration is an “impermissible burden upon Miller’s religious beliefs,” Counsell wrote.

Counsell cited several flaws in the law, including that it will never reach 100 percent compliance and does not require the registered farmers to have a telephone, requiring state officials to still go door to door at some farms.

There is “no concrete evidence that premises registration serves the interest of promoting health and food safety better than other alternatives, which it must do to withstand this challenge,” Counsell noted.

Counsell wrote that Miller complies with other regulations, including providing his name and address when buying and selling livestock, which provides sufficient information for locating his animals.

Bill Herr, a Greenwood dairy farmer who owns about 165 cattle, said the premises registration is a benefit for tracking disease, as well as for the industry’s image. All of his animals are registered.

“Our livelihood is pretty dependent on how people view our product, how safe it is,” Herr said. “If there was a health issue, it would be very valuable information to know where these animals are being raised.”

Miller’s conviction, the court said, is supported by his statement that he “would accept government punishment or leave the state before violating his religious beliefs.”

Herr, despite his support of registration, said someone with serious religious convictions should not be subject to something that would infringe upon beliefs.

“I can respect religious beliefs, though. I have my own,” he said. “Just because they’re different from someone else’s doesn’t mean they’re wrong.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

‘Amish Grace’ is exploitation film that has no redeeming value

By Patriot-News Editorial Board
March 11, 2010, 7:32AM

Is there such a thing as “must-miss” TV?

If so, put “Amish Grace” on your list. The Lifetime Movie Network film, which airs March 28, purports to recount the shooting of 10 Amish girls in a Nickel Mines schoolhouse by Charles Carl Roberts IV on Oct. 2, 2006.

CHRIS KNIGHT, The Patriot-News Movie about the Amish is shameful.

CHRIS KNIGHT, The Patriot-News Movie about the Amish is shameful.

There has always been a fundamental contradiction in the fact that the “English” — as the Amish call non-Amish — make money off an intensely private people who reject the values of modern society.

Lancaster County has spawned an entire industry of Amish tourism, with busloads who ogle at horse-drawn buggies and men in straw hats.

It’s true that the Amish supplement their farming by selling handmade crafts and foods to tourists. But selling a few quilts and shoofly pie at a local craft store is light years from the crass exploitation that is “Amish Grace.”

Few who know the Amish wanted a piece of this horror show. The fictional film is based on the nonfiction book “Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy,” by Donald B. Kraybill, Steven M. Nolt and David L. Weaver-Zercher. Kraybill is an Elizabethtown College professor and senior fellow at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies.

“Out of respect to our friends in the Amish community, and especially those related to the Nickel Mines tragedy, we declined the producer’s requests to consult and assist in the development of a film,” the authors said in a written statement.

It is easy to see why.

This film has about as much to do with understanding the Amish as “Avatar” has to do with understanding the Masai.

As Patriot-News writer Ivey DeJesus described it, in the world of “Amish Grace,” the men all wear squeaky clean boots with no trace of farm mud and the women all sport manicured fingernails.

More importantly, the film distorts what happened.

“I can’t stand this place anymore,” says a character who lost her daughter in the shooting and lashes out at her husband.

In reality, the Nickel Mines tragedy only caused the Amish to affirm the bedrock values of their community.

“The media descend on the town and criticize its Amish leaders for their notion of unconditional forgiveness of the shooter,” trumpets the movie’s Web site (right next to a promo for “Kim Kardashian’s Most Memorable Hairstyles.”)

In reality, the public — including this newspaper — marveled at the Amish for truly living their deep faith.

It is inevitable that Hollywood tries to idealize and romanticize just about any hardship, from slavery to poverty to cancer.

But there is a special irony in glamorizing a people whose entire life is dedicated to eschewing individual attention.

You cannot see a shadow by shining a light on it. You cannot capture smoke by grabbing it with your hands. And you cannot celebrate the humility of the Amish by making them the stars of their own Lifetime movie.

If the film’s producers really wanted to honor the Amish, they would have said a prayer for them and let them be.

Tags: , , ,

12th Amish man faces Morristown permit violation

By DAVID WINTERS
TIMES STAFF WRITER
THURSDAY, MARCH 11, 2010

MORRISTOWN — Morristown is continuing to cite the Amish for building homes without permits while a federal lawsuit accusing the town of religious discrimination is pending.

Moise L. Swartzentruber, of 151 Stowe Road, was charged in late February. He’s the 12th Amish man since 2006 to be charged with failure to comply with building codes in Morristown.

Code Enforcement Officer Lanetta Kay Davis cited Mr. Swartzentruber over an addition made to his Stowe Road home last year. He is accused of not submitting a building plan to the town for the addition.

Mr. Swartzentruber is scheduled for arraignment March 18 before Town Judge James T. Phillips Jr., court officials said Wednesday. Ms. Davis declined to comment Wednesday

According to court documents, Ms. Davis in May noticed the addition being built. She sent a letter to Mr. Swartzentruber informing him of the building code violation, which had to be corrected by June 22.

Both parties met July 1 to discuss the matter. Ms. Davis provided Mr. Swartzentruber with an extension to Aug. 13, allowing him time to talk with his group.

On July 28, he informed the town that he wouldn’t submit a building plan. Both parties met again on Aug. 13, with no agreement reached because “the defendant stated that no inspections would be allowed.”

Eleven Amish families sued the town of Morristown in January 2009 over alleged religious discrimination.

“We’re sorry to see that Morristown is continuing its crusade against the Amish,” said Lori H. Windham, an attorney for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, Washington, D.C., who is representing the Amish families in the federal lawsuit.

The Amish say the town refuses to issue permits that allow them to build homes according to their beliefs. The Amish, members of the Old Order Swartzentruber sect, say their religious beliefs will be violated if the town forces them to install smoke detectors in their homes, submit engineering plans and allow home inspections.

The lawsuit says the Amish will be forced to leave the town if they cannot build their homes and farms.

The cases against the 11 Amish men have been delayed for more than a year for various reasons, including a lengthy search for an interpreter.

The lawsuit says the town is selectively enforcing the law against the Amish to effectively force them from the community.

Morristown Town Council members said previously that they must enforce building codes because turning a blind eye to the Amish will create unfair enforcement. Building codes are set by state law but enforced by municipalities.

The lawsuit also contends that Ms. Davis has made several postings on a Web site devoted to criticism of the Swartzentruber Amish religion, culture and practices. She also reportedly asked “nearby jurisdictions to take a hard line on code enforcement and issue citations to the Amish in their towns.”

Swartzentruber Amish also have encountered building code disputes in Hammond, Western New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. The 11 Amish men do not deny the charges, but say code requirements violate their right to freely exercise their religion.

An attempt to reach an out-of-court settlement failed in December. The case before U.S. District Court in Albany will be scheduled for trial, likely late this year or in early 2011.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Judge Rules in Favor of Amish in Animal ID Case

Note: Facts, the application for the grant money to operate the program requires that Wisconsin abide by the terms set forth under the Federal Register. In which the participation must be voluntary and a producer can op-out. The state has breached their contract and are subject to Federal Administrative Relief which may result in repayment of all grant moneys. The USDA also failed to provide warning to the state that it may be sued, under requirements of Article 1 Sec.8 Clause 1 regarding grants under the authority of the General Welfare Clause. See annotated Supreme Court rulings for details.

Paul M. Griepentrog

A decision has finally been made in the highly anticipated case in which the State of Wisconsin was trying to sue an Amish man for not following Wisconsin’s Livestock Premise Registration law. On Tuesday, Clark County Circuit Court Judge Jon Counsell ruled that Emanuel Miller Jr. of Loyal, Wisconsin does have a ‘religious right’ to be exempt from the law, which requires anyone who keeps, houses, or co-mingles livestock to register their premises with the state.

It was noted during court proceedings that the Amish do provide their names and addresses when they buy and sell livestock, and the judge said that doing so should be enough for the state to track down an animal in the event of a disease.

Prosecutors also cited a recent pseudorabies case in Clark County as an example of why the premises law is needed. But Judge Counsell said the state failed to show why alternatives, that would not affect Miller’s religious freedom, would not be just as effective.

The Amish believe the requirement infringes on their religious believes because it could eventually result in the tagging of all animals, or the ‘Mark of the Beast.’ But prosecutors felt with mandatory premise ID, the process of tracking down potentially at-risk farms would be much easier if there were an animal disease. The issue of “government ease” fell short in court to the issue of “religious rights.”

Meanwhile, Paul McGraw, the assistant state veterinarian with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture’s animal health division says he expects the state to appeal the ruling. A case of this nature regarding a state case, is normally a wearing down of the accused, which judges also tire of.

The NAIS, requiring premises registration, was a program instigated by the USDA. Every state was offered “grant” funds as an incentive to enforce a full mandatory NAIS with arrests and fines for noncompliance. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has received over twelve million dollars to tighten the screws on all Wisconsin livestock producers. Their enforcements are the most ruthless of any state with many other pending cases. Their grant moneys are also the largest considering the number of livestock producers in the state.

Wisconsin has been used by USDA as an example of strict enforcements for the nation. Additionally increasing the weakened position of Wisconsin, national resistance to NAIS caused Sec. Vilsack on Feb. 5, to announce the NAIS program was discontinued. Without the backing of federal policy, judicial decisions by Wisconsin are predicted to be very problematic for the state. The Miller case is the first court decision since USDA withdrew the program.

On Feb 5 Vilsack stated that one of the reasons for terminating the NAIS program was that, “USDA had gotten a failing grade on NAIS” and that, “Terminating the program would help overcome some of the mistrust caused by NAIS.” It appears Dr. McGraw still has not arrived to where Sec. Vilsack is, serious work on the Wisconsin “mistrust” issue.

The case at one time was referred to as the state’s first such NAIS prosecution, until a Polk County judge ruled in October that Patrick Monchilovich of Cumberland violated the four-year-old rule after he refused to register his premises. He was ordered to pay a civil forfeiture and court costs. (This was before the USDA Feb. 5 announcement.)

McGraw and Wisconsin have been tossed under the bus by USDA and now Clark County Circuit Court Judge Jon Counsell just tossed them under a convoy of galloping Amish steel-wheeled buggies.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Easter Bunny Reports: “NAIS IS DEAD!”

NEWS WITH VIEWS.COM - Where Reality Shatters Illusion

Doreen HannesBy Doreen Hannes
February 18, 2010
NewsWithViews.com

As I reported after returning from the NIAA (National Institute for Animal Agriculture) meeting last August, rumors of the death of NAIS have been greatly exaggerated. (Read) The USDA has finally admitted that they have too much negative publicity surrounding the name NAIS, and that they actually have to do what they tried to do in the first place: get the states to do their bidding on ‘animal identification’ and ‘traceability’ according to World Trade Organization standards. So yippee. They are only going to exercise their rule-making authority to control interstate commerce. Well, that’s all they had the authority to do at the outset. So we should be giddy with excitement that they are openly proclaiming they will do just that now.

Should we be happier than a pig in a puddle because they openly stated that they will leave animals which never exit the state out of the new plan? They never had the authority to deal with those animals anyway…unless, of course, you take money from the USDA. Otherwise, that authority rests with your state. The USDA will continue to fund the states and work in a ‘collaborative’ way with states and industry (continuing the Public Private Partnership otherwise known as fascism) to develop the “minimum standards” that must be followed in order to participate in interstate commerce.

So, as many conversations with my compatriots in the fight against NAIS have alluded to, at last the USDA is pulling the commerce clause out and holding it up as their hammer for “minimum standards” that will be required by forthcoming regulations for ‘disease traceability’. And why has the USDA taken to calling it ‘disease traceability’ instead of ‘animal identification’? Because they only HAVE authority over the diseases! The FDA has authority over live animals on the farm, even though the majority of people don’t know this, and it is a very useful poker chip in the globalization game. It is called misdirection, and those of us who have been deeply involved in the fight against the NAIS are very aware of this agency’s use of misinformation, disinformation, subterfuge and general sneakiness in foisting upon us their WTO driven desire that will create captive supply for export of the entire domestic livestock population.

The only official document available on the “NAIS not NAIS” program is a seven page Q and A available at the new page for “NAIS not NAIS” called Animal Disease Traceability. It’s only 7 pages, so if you have read the previous 1200 pages of USDA documents on this program, it’s a walk in the park.

One of the first questions that one asks when told “NAIS is Dead!”, (aside from “what’s it’s new name?”) is “What about all the people who are in the Premises Database with PIN’s already?” According to the 7-page document, they stay in that database.

How about animals that are already identified with the “840” tags for NAIS? They also stay in the database. What about the “840” tags themselves? Well, the USDA and States will keep using them.

Are they going to halt further registrations into the NAIS database? Heck no! They’ll keep registering properties and will also be using a ‘unique location identifier’ for this kinder, gentler NAIS that the States will run for us.

Why are they re-using the first two prongs of NAIS? Aside from the unstated fact that they are using them because they have to use them to be compliant with OIE (World Animal Health Organization) guidelines, they say it’s because of the tremendous amount of money spent developing NAIS already even though it is un-Constitutional.

How much money? It’s government math, so it’s likely done by consensus as opposed to literal whole numbers that add up- you know, like 2+2=4. Consensus would make it possible for 2+2 to equal 5. Anyway, figures cited by various officials are anywhere from $120 million to $180 million. Less than 60¢ per person, so almost nothing when compared to the monstrous 107 trillion dollars in unfunded liabilities we are currently carrying. Believe me, when I say I am not for government waste at all, but when an agency has spent this much time and money on an unfruitful program, isn’t it better to simply fully knock it in the head instead of changing the name and playing “Hide and Go Seek” with the people who have adamantly opposed this program? Why couldn’t the USDA do the only truly Constitutional thing with this international-trade driven program and let those who want to deal in international markets do this to themselves through the Export Verification Services department of the USDA? Well, if they did that, not only would they have to actually be fully open and transparent, they would need to let the public in on the big secret that the United States is no longer in charge of its own policies, rather they are obligated to follow the Sanitary PhytoSanitary (SPS) directives of the World Trade Organization agencies, namely Codex Ailimentarius, the OIE and the IPPC (International Plant Protection Convention).

And we still have the very real issue of the massive database for premises registration (or the unique location allocator) having no public or verifiable oversight to check whether or not people who have been told they were removed were in fact removed from that database. So if NAIS is dead, why not allow the database to be annihilated? Obviously, they are still following the plan.

What about the states that have passed legislation designed to constrain NAIS from becoming mandatory within their boundaries? How will this new disease traceability program affect them? Well, since this is NOT NAIS and the regulations aren’t yet written, the states will have to wait to find out what requirements they MUST MEET in order to participate in interstate commerce. There’s your hammer.

So how powerful is the interstate commerce clause? Pretty dang powerful. And if people who dealt in the local food movement fully understood Wickard vs. Filburn, they would feel no consolation whatsoever from the USDA’s statement that they are not interested in regulating livestock that stay within the state.

In a nutshell, this 1942 Supreme Court case found that since Filburn had accepted money as part of the Agricultural Adjustments Act and then grew wheat to feed his own livestock, that he was not only subject to the regulation of the USDA by accepting that money, but also, since he grew wheat, he hadn’t purchased it, and had he not grown it, he would have had to purchase wheat which would have likely come through interstate commerce. Therefore, his planting of wheat affected interstate commerce and solidified the USDA’s jurisdiction over his actions.

If you transplant “tomato” for wheat you can see how sinister this ruling truly is. If you grow tomatoes, you won’t be buying them, so if you don’t buy them, and since the store bought tomatoes likely cross state lines in their movement, you are affecting interstate commerce by growing tomatoes….This is precedent, and it is a very, very dangerous precedent. So taking money or help from the USDA to establish your local farmer’s market is going to put you into a relationship that is highly precarious for freedom.

The interstate commerce clause was not designed to hammer states into submission to federal or international agency trade objectives, it was to stop states from unfairly discriminating against each other and to enable us to be a strong union of sovereign states that could actually feed itself and prosper. The only thing to do is to keep fighting with full knowledge and to get the States to exercise their duty to protect the Citizens from an overarching Federal government. We need states to completely free up direct trade between farmers and consumers and we need states to work together to create their own criteria for exchange of goods across state lines.

Do we have to ‘stay engaged’ in conversations with the USDA on this “New Not NAIS”? Yes, to keep telling them to go sell crazy somewhere else, we’re all stocked up here, thank you. They should tend the borders, control and actually inspect the imports, run the disease programs that worked and were not massive consolidations of power in federal hands, and for cryin’ out loud INSPECT the packing plants and stop trying to make consumers believe that farmers and ranchers are responsible for sloppy slaughtering!

Also, go ahead and leave a bunch of the milk chocolate rabbits for us. Chocolate is one thing we probably should import, but certainly not at the cost of our freedom and sovereignty.

© 2010 Doreen Hannes – All Rights Reserved

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

They Pry Them from Our Cold Dead Fingers

by Sharon Harris
by Sharn Harris

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away…

It’s a lively community forum. A nice young woman named Jan Smith from Freeland (a tiny country tucked away somewhere in Western Europe) is telling us about how Freeland has solved many of the problems our local politicians have been struggling with. Some think our city council members could learn from Freeland’s example.

“One of the problems we’ve dealt with quite successfully is the gun issue,” Ms. Smith says. “Now remember, we’re a free country like yours – we believe in individual liberty and responsibility. We certainly allow citizens to own and use firearms.

“However, we noticed that this creates several problems. Many people just don’t take proper care of their guns. They don’t know how to clean them, how to store them, how to make sure they are safe. Other people modify their guns in ways that are illegal or not in the best interests of the public. This poses a danger not only to themselves, but to the community.

“Some of our cleverest leaders solved that. First, we passed a law requiring that everyone care for their guns and store them properly. We instituted a massive educational campaign to stress the importance of this.

“That helped, but of course there were still people who didn’t comply.

“The way we ultimately solved the problem was for the government to provide citizens with the service of taking care of their guns for them.

“We built huge buildings in every community and hired firearm experts to work there. We passed a new law requiring everyone to drop off their guns at the building closest to them every morning, and then pick them up in the early evening. Some complained this was inconvenient for them, so we created a system to pick the guns up at each home every morning and return them to the owners in the evenings.

“Having the guns all day gives our government-trained firearms experts a chance to modify those that don’t comply with gun regulations, in addition to making sure they are cleaned and stored safely.

“It’s a win-win. Folks really appreciate this service!

“A great side effect that we didn’t anticipate was that it gives more freedom to everyone! No longer do citizens worry about what might happen to their guns if they left them at home during the day, so they can go to work or run their errands in peace.

“They know their guns are safe and well-cared-for. And of course they appreciate not having to do the hard work of taking care of their guns themselves.”

Councilman Brown interrupts with a question: “Have you encountered any problems with this system?”

“Not really.” Ms. Smith pauses. “Well, some people complain that the government experts don’t do a good job. Some say that their guns don’t work as well as they used to, or that they prefer to take care of them themselves, for whatever reasons.

“No problem. To appease these complainers, we allow them to take their guns to private, licensed companies that provide the same service. Of course, not many people take advantage of these private services, because after all they have to PAY for them, whereas the tax-funded government service is free.

Councilman Jones: “Sounds great! This is something I think we should consider here.”

I look around at the mostly conservative and libertarian crowd – who, predictably go ballistic.

“You’ve got to be kidding!” says a man on the front row. “You’ll never see that here!” says another.

“You’ll take my guns when you pry them from my cold dead fingers!” shouts a man in the back row, and soon the crowd is on its feet – echoing his statement and booing the politicians.

Whew! It’s clear we won’t see this sort of thing in my community any time soon.

As I nod in agreement with the crowd, I notice an image out of the corner of my eye – a bright yellow school bus is passing by the window.

And suddenly I realize that just about everyone in the room allows government workers to come every day and take away something – something far more precious than any piece of metal.

That big yellow school bus takes our children to huge government buildings where most of their waking hours are spent. Where each day begins with an invocation of loyalty to the state. Where their most treasured spiritual values and symbols are banished. Where peer pressure replaces family values. Where the truly important questions of life can’t be asked, much less answered. Where pop culture surpasses the classics. Where socialism is taught – both in theory and by example. Where conformity and indoctrination are far more important than thinking or reading…

Libertarians and most conservatives boldly and nobly take a stand for our right to keep and bear arms. Not so we can go duck hunting, but so we can defend ourselves and our families from invasion. And so we can, if necessary, defend our liberty from the possibility of a tyrannical state.

But what if the tyranny we fear comes to pass – grown and nurtured in our very homes?

Until we have equal passion for defending our children from the invasion of their MINDS – unless we take a bold and noble stand for the separation of SCHOOL and state – we will continue to allow our children to be taken from our warm, loving arms.

January 7, 2004

Sharon Harris [send her mail] is president of the Advocates for Self-Government, a nonprofit libertarian educational organization established in 1985.

Copyright © 2004 LewRockwell.com

Tags: