Raw Milk Situation Continues to Develop

Snapshot of Austin milk raidIn the wake of the raid on a raw milk drop point in Austin just before Memorial Day Weekend (pictured at right), we’ve received many questions about what happened – and what happens next.

There are four core points. (Click on each point to jump to details.)

  1. Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance stands behind the raw milk farms and the customers who have set up legal group distribution points.
  2. The recent raid appears to be due to a combination of an industry complainant and “rogue” bureaucrats.
  3. If government agents visit your home, you have legal rights and can choose how to proceed.
  4. YOU can make a difference!

 


WE STAND BEHIND
LICENSED RAW MILK PRODUCERS

Texas allows the purchase of Grade A raw milk only when purchased directly from the farmer at the place of production. For years, raw milk customers have cooperated to pick up each other’s milk and save a lot of time and gas – benefiting us all by reducing vehicle miles, traffic, and air pollution from unnecessary driving.…

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Key Senators Cave In to Monsanto

Yesterday, Senator Roberts (R-KS) and Senator Stabenow (D-MI) announced a deal to bring Monsanto’s dream bill to the Senate floor. Your Senators will vote as soon as next week.

To put it bluntly, the final bill is terrible. This so-called “compromise” simply hands Monsanto and Big Food corporations a complete victory.

Instead of on-package labels, the bill calls for companies to provide a website url, a QR code, a symbol or a phone number on the package that will send consumers on a wild goose chase to figure out what GMOs might be in their food.

This sham of a federal labeling scheme pre-empts any state law, robbing states of the right to adopt meaningful GMO labeling laws, as Vermont has done.

Added to that, the bill doesn’t even provide for any federal penalties for companies’ failure to comply. It excludes the most recent forms of genetic engineering, and it’s a total cave-in to Monsanto.

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Raw Milk Pickup Shut Down by State & City Agents

Health departments in Texas have stepped up their attacks on the public’s right to purchase food directly from farmers, resorting to bringing the police to harass and intimidate local raw milk customers.

That’s what happened to one group of raw milk customers in Austin recently. On May 26, they went to a private home to meet the courier that they had hired to pick up their milk, and were met by four inspectors from the City of Austin Health Department and Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). An unmarked police car pulled into the driveway, blocking the raw milk van and a customer’s car – with her children in it – and two policemen emerged.

The inspectors proceeded to tell the customers that they could not take possession of the milk, ignoring protests that they had already paid for that milk. The inspectors also ignored the statement from the courier that he had a signed agreement with the customers making him their agent – and instead falsely wrote on the inspection report that the courier worked for the farmer.…

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The DARK Act fight: It’s not over yet!

Monsanto and other biotech companies are continuing to push for a bill to cut off your right to know what’s in your food. Thanks to people like you who spoke up, we stopped the DARK Act in March — but the fight is not yet over.

 

As you know, the bill, dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, would preempt state GMO labeling laws, taking power away from our state legislatures.

 

Although Senator Roberts couldn’t muster enough votes to pass the bill earlier this year, Big Food Corporations are gearing up for another push.

 

In place of state laws for mandatory, on-package labeling, the DARK Act would continue the failed approach of voluntary labeling, together with secretive QR codes, websites, and call-in numbers, none of which serve to inform the majority of consumers about what is in their food.

 

Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling law goes into effect on July 1, and the pressure from the Big Food Corporations to pass Monsanto’s Dream Bill is stronger than ever.

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DARK Act stopped in the Senate!

Thanks to you and the thousands of Americans who spoke up for labeling GMOs and states’ rights, the Senate did not get the 60 votes needed to move Monsanto’s Dream Bill forward.

 

The bill, dubbed the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act, would have preempted the GMO labeling law in Vermont and all other state laws on the issue, taking power away from our state legislatures. In place of the state laws for mandatory, on-package labeling, the DARK Act would have continued the failed approach of voluntary labeling, together with secretive QR codes, websites, and call-in numbers, none of which serve to inform the majority of consumers about what is in their food.

 

The defeat of the DARK Act is a major victory for the food movement and America’s right to know – thank you for taking action!

 

Yesterday’s vote was mostly along partisan lines, with most Democrats voting against the DARK Act and most Republicans voting for it, but with members of both parties breaking ranks.…

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The Safety of Farmers’ Markets

Bad Science Behind the Recent Attack

Download a pdf of this article here

 

On January 17, Professor Bellemare, an economist at the University of Minnesota, published an opinion piece in the NY Times claiming that his research showed a correlation between the number of farmers’ markets and the number of food-borne illnesses in a state.

 

Even taking Bellemare’s claim at face value, it simply doesn’t mean a lot. Correlation does not mean causation. There are numerous examples of meaningless correlations, such as a graph that was developed showing that the rise in autism correlates with the rise in consumption of organic foods – although no one would contend that there’s a logical connection between those two trends.

 

Moreover, the way Bellemare found this supposed correlation was deeply flawed. The only data used were the number of farmers’ markets in each state and the number of foodborne outbreaks and illnesses in each state.…

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Texas Water Fights – Round Two

In the last Texas legislative session, legislators proposed a California-style scheme of massive water transfers around the state.  FARFA played a key role in defeating the proposed bill, but the issue is far from dead.  Legislators who see nothing wrong in using the power of the government to take water and land away from rural areas to promote unrestrained urban growth — at the expense of the children and grandchildren of both rural and urban areas — are already looking ahead to the 2017 legislative session.

On February 2, 2016, the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing about water marketing. Click here for FARFA’s post-hearing press release.

Out of the dozen invited witnesses, not a single one represented agricultural interests.

cracked land and green lawn-1

FARFA’s executive director, Judith McGeary, submitted written testimony and testified briefly during the public testimony portion of the hearing.

During the hearing, Representative Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) repeatedly claimed that the current system wasn’t working because some areas and landowners would not agree to sell their water for export. …

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Texas Events – February 2016

February is a busy month for people who care about local food and small farms in Texas! Check out these interesting and educational events:

Plus, researchers at Sam Houston State University continue to look for farmers and ranchers to respond to a survey to help develop more resources for small-scale producers.

Want to help FARFA?  We need volunteers to help with our booth at both the Texas Organics conference and the Mother Earth News Fair. Please email Judith@FarmAndRanchFreedom.org if you are interested in volunteering.

 

 

Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Annual Conference

 

The Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association’s annual conference is coming up fast!

The 2016 conference will be loaded, as always, with organic farming, gardening, health, foodie, farm to chef, and sustainable ag discussion from engaging speakers.…

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Texas 2016 Primary Endorsements

It’s time for the Texas Primary Elections! Early voting begins on February 16 and runs through February 26. Election Day is on March 1, 2016

FARFA endorses the following candidates based on their positions on food and agricultural issues, as well as closely related issues such as water rights and use. FARFA’s endorsement does not constitute an endorsement of the candidates’ positions on other issues.

As you will see, FARFA is only endorsing two candidates in the primaries (one Democrat and one Republican). Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list of good candidates! We decided to endorse in these two specific races because they are hotly contested and there is a candidate with a strong record on our issues. We want to also recognize some of the legislators who were local food champions last session.

Huey Fischer for State Representative for District 49 in AustinHuey-Fischer

FARFA endorses Huey Fischer in the Democratic Primary for House District 49, which was previously held by Representative Naishtat.…

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Stop the Trans Pacific Partnership

 

The World Trade Organization (WTO) recently held that the U.S. could be subject to up to $1 billion in trade penalties simply because our law requires that meat be labeled with the country where it came from. According to the WTO, Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is a “trade barrier” and Americans have no right to know where their food comes from.

Within days, Congress bowed to the threat from the WTO and repealed Country of Origin Labeling on beef and pork.

How many times does this have to happen before we learn a lesson? COOL, dolphin-safe tuna labels, and so much more have been attacked due to international trade agreements. Twenty of years of so-called free trade agreements have given us millions of lost jobs and an economy that benefits huge corporations at everyone else’s expense.

Now, the President is asking Congress to approve the latest – and worst – deal: the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership.

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