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
RAW MILK PRODUCERS AND CONSUMERS

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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Farm and Food Groups Say No to the TPP

The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance has joined with 160 farm, food, rural, and faith groups to send a letter to Congress urging legislators to vote no on the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP).

As the letter points out: “Independent family farmers and ranchers will see little benefit” from the TPP.  “The main beneficiaries of the TPP are the companies that buy, process and ship raw agricultural commodities, not the farmers who face real risks from rising import competition.”

Here are just some of the problems with the TPP:
  • Importers will be able to challenge individual border inspection decisions, second-guessing U.S. inspectors about what food is safe and not safe to let into our country.
  • Agribusiness and biotech companies will be able to use international tribunals to challenge any real limitations on GMO crops and food, including any country, state, or local government that bans GMO imports, tests for GMO contamination, does not promptly approve new GMO crops, or requires GMO labeling.

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DARK Act moving forward

 

This week, the Senate Agriculture Committee voted to undermine states’ rights and deny you the right to know what’s in your food.  By a vote of 14-6, the Committee approved S.2609, Senator Roberts’ version of the DARK Act to prohibit mandatory state labeling of genetically engineered (GMO) foods.

The next step is the full Senate, and we have to stop this disastrous bill there!Big Food Doesn't Label Image

There’s talk of a “compromise,” which is likely to include a proposal for QR codes — patterned boxes on a package that you can scan with a smart phone, which then takes you to the company’s website which you have to search to find out whether or not the food has GMOs.

There’s a reason why we call the bill that passed the House last summer the Deny Americans the Right to Know Act (DARK Act).…

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Is your fish GMO?

Last December, the FDA caved to industry pressure and approved GMO salmon for introduction to the food supply.

It’s not in stores yet, but when it is, shouldn’t you have a right to know whether you’re eating it?

The FDA has proposed voluntary labeling for GMO salmon. But “voluntary labeling” almost always translates to “no labeling,” keeping consumers in the dark about what they’re eating and feeding their families.

The FDA is accepting comments on this labeling policy until this Monday, January 25. Tell them labels need to be required, not optional.

FDA’s proposal is in the form of a guidance document, and normally we would not urge you to take the time to comment on a non-binding guidance document – particularly since FDA has so consistently refused to require labeling.

But the issue of GMO salmon is unusual because even Congress has weighed in to support mandatory labels.  At the end of last year, Congress expressed disapproval of the FDA’s decision not to require labels and even included a provision in the annual spending bill that called for GMO salmon labels to be mandatory.…

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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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Good news – but action is needed

 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced it is revoking the registration of “Enlist Duo,” a toxic herbicide developed to be used with genetically engineered “Agent Orange” crops!

The agency approved this combination of glyphosate and 2, 4-D (one of the main ingredients in Agent Orange) just over a year ago, to be used on genetically engineered crops designed to withstand this potent herbicide cocktail. But after being challenged in court, the EPA has stated that it realized that the combination of these chemicals is likely significantly more harmful than it had initially believed.

This decision means that the Agent Orange crops will not be widely planted this spring, relieving the fears of many non-GMO farmers who could have seen their crops wiped out by herbicide drift.

But, even as we celebrate this good news, Monsanto, Dow, and their Big Food allies are working on a new, underhanded approach to hide information about GMOs.

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TPP text released – 90 days to stop it!

 

The text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership has finally been released — and it’s as bad, if not worse, than expected.

When you think of “free trade,” you probably think about cargo ships, tariffs, and quotas. But only a small portion of the TPP addresses those issues. Instead, the majority of this long, complicated agreement sets the rules for all the countries in it – including the U.S. – on issues such as agriculture, food, intellectual property and patents, banking, and more. The agreement gives international corporations the ability to trump properly enacted domestic laws by attacking them as supposed trade barriers.

Here are just some of the highlights:newTPP map cropped

  • The TPP gives importers the ability to challenge individual border inspection decisions, second-guessing U.S. inspectors about what food is safe and not safe to let into our country.
  • The TPP threatens any serious limitation on genetically engineered foods. Although this portion of the text still isn’t available, the USDA’s website states: “The TPP … includes provisions on agricultural biotechnology that commit TPP countries to foster transparency in their decision-making processes, to work together on situations of low-level presence, and to promote timely authorization of products of modern biotechnology.”  Translating that into regular English: Agribusiness and biotech companies will be able to use international tribunals to challenge countries that ban GMO imports, test for GMO contamination, do not promptly approve new GMO crops, or even require GMO labeling.

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