Libertarian-minded lawmakers finally waking up to the issue of food freedom

Monday, May 05, 2014 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: food freedom, raw milk, libertarian lawmakers

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(NaturalNews) Democrats and libertarians are increasingly taking up the issue of food freedom, with a number of left-wing lawmakers increasingly siding with Americans who believe that farmers should have the right to sell fresh cow's milk to neighbors if they want, without government regulation or interference.

In addition, they agree that farmers should be able to slaughter their livestock they have raised and sell that directly to consumers, just like they sell fresh fruits and vegetables.

According to Politico:

Consumer advocates and Big Ag have fought successfully for years to keep strong federal and state regulations on the books to block such allowances, citing serious food safety concerns. But as buying local has become all the rage and concerns about industrialized agriculture more widespread, the right-leaning food freedom cause is gaining steam and increasingly finding allies on the left.

'Consumer advocates' are really just advocates for more regulation

New legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to legalize the interstate shipment of unpasteurized milk -- illegal to sell in about half of the country -- recently attracted the attention of more Democratic co-sponsors, including Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), and Jared Polis (D-Colo.). In past years, former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), had very few allies sign onto this cause, which he regularly backed.

Another example of food freedom bipartisanship: Democratic Reps. Pingree and Peter Welch of Vermont recently teamed with GOP Reps. Steve Womack of Arkansas and Cory Gardner of Colorado "to take on a regulation the FDA proposed under a 2011 food safety law that would impose new safety standards on spent grain, which brewers often donate or sell to livestock farms," Politico reported.

In addition, small-time producers have had support from Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), who were able to gain major exemptions for them when comprehensive food safety measures were being considered in their chamber.

But as the movement gains support inside (and outside) the Beltway, consumer advocates say they hope the movement to support small producers does not outweigh efforts to make food safer.

"When you talk about food freedom and public health, you want food to be free of pathogens," Chris Waldrop, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America, told Politico. "You have to be very careful in how you look at this and craft those proposals because it could mean putting consumers at risk in order to alleviate some regulatory burdens for local farmers."

However, supporters of food freedom, including Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who sponsored a pair of raw-milk bills and is now hoping to assume a leadership role in the movement, insist that the argument about food safety is moot, because Big Ag is causing more problems.

"The food or farm freedom movement is really bipartisan," Massie said. "Many consumers care not only about the safety of their food but also how it was raised. Neither party has a monopoly on healthiness, if you will, and in general this food is healthier."

Efforts to quash food freedom via new regulations is ramping up

Massie, a freshman congressman who works his own farm where he and his wife produce grass-fed beef, grow and can fruits and veggies and raise chickens and ducks, plans to introduce more food freedom legislation in the coming months -- and he's hoping Democratic colleagues will climb on board.

"I sit two or three seats from the aisle in the House of Representatives because I'm always looking for Democratic co-sponsors," he quipped to Politico.

Massie, along with GOP Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who is very popular within the food freedom movement, has said he would like to see legislation that would allow all meat producers the same exemption from USDA inspections provided to poultry farmers who raise fewer than 20,000 birds a year.

But even as efforts in Congress are increasing to bolster food freedom, the federal regulatory leviathan under the Obama administration is working overtime to quash any real progress, as noted by this report from Fox News.


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