Barack Obama on U.S. food & ag policy

Ari LeVaux sent us a link to his May 29 column for the Missoula Independent, Flash in the Pan, in which he interviewed Barack Obama over email about food and agriculture policy. Encouraging stuff, despite the off-putting (to me anyway) de-rigeur touting of the “renewable fuels” funding in the Farm Bill as a way to “reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

For example, Obama says:

  • As president, I would implement USDA policies that promote local and regional food systems, including assisting states to develop programs aimed at community-supported farms.
  • As president, I would direct the Environmental Protection Agency to strictly monitor and regulate pollution from large factory farms…I also support efforts to provide more meaningful local control over these factory farms.
  • I believe that consumers have a right to know where their food comes from.

He also gives an innocuous chili recipe.

8 Responsesto “Barack Obama on U.S. food & ag policy”

  1. policyhog says:

    Personally I’m hoping for Michelle Obama to get serious about food policy.

  2. Zac says:

    Actually, we’re (my family) is a little concerned with Obama since had written a piece on candidates and their relation with the National Animal Identification System. This USDA policy is the single policy that would put our small farm out of business. Additionally, one of his advisors is a member of the national pork council (I believe) not much about him screams small, biodynamic, save your food system and nourish your soul to me. I like his other issues, but the Ethicurean post doesn’t do a great job describing his food/ag position.

  3. FoodieJoan says:

    Would ZacSays explain in more detail how the USDA policy would adversely affect his family’s and other’s small farms in the US and so badly as to put them out of business–if that is not too complicated? 

  4. Zac says:

    In response to FoodieJoan- From May 1st till the end of July our farm orders in 100 chicks a week to be grown over an 8 week period, and then processed for our farmer markets, and families who come to our farm. If NAIS was fully implemented then each of those chicks would need to be tagged with an RFID chip. The movements of each bird needs to then be reported to the govt. We have about half of our birds in a neighbor’s field. So when I get the chicks in I go online and send in a report stating I received 100 birds. Then every time one of those little birdies dies from the myriad of things little birdies die from I need to log on within 24 hours and file another report, specifying which bird died and how. Then when I move them all to my neighbors, I need to report within 24hour, then report when I bring them back again, and then again when slaughtered? No multiply that by 1000 birds, 2-3 slaughter days a week, and then do rabbits. Every time a sow lays down and flattens a baby piglet I need to report it in. It is 10:36. I just finished prepping an order for a restaurant tomorrow. Do you really think I want to add an extra half hour onto my night to tell a new agency that a piglet and 3 chicks died, 36 we slaughtered, 11 new baby bunnies were born (but tomorrow I log back on because the mother kicked one out of the nest and it died), report that I moved 100 birds to another property, let them know a cow got out, and that I just received another 100 birds, each of which, every animal I mentioned needs to have its personal identification number reported. NO WAY. That is how the law is written now, and it would create a logistical and paperwork nightmare. Additionally the costs would greatly add to the meat we sell. So Joan I hope that is enough detail, and  not too complicated to understand.

  5. Zac is right on the money. Because those animals aren’t all moved onto and off of the property at the same time, and they aren’t all the same species, he doesn’t get to use the group/lot number that the big CAFOs can use. Under NAIS all births/deaths are to be reported, and while technically NAIS doesn’t cover rabbits, many states have a space to report if a person has rabbits and some states want to know how many, this is on the premises registration form.

    Opperating a small scale, diverse farm – exactly the type many if not most people think of when the term ‘small family farm’ is bandied about – he will be subject to movement reporting, individual ID, etc. on all of his animals. If he were a CAFO moving 25,000 birds at a time onto and off of his property, then he’d only have to use one number for the bunch of them, and he’d get to generate the number all on his own to boot…..

  6. FoodieJoan says:

    6/2/2008, 2:45 a.m. PDT.  ZAC, thank you kindly.   Are you okay with my forwarding your explanation to the Democratic contenders for U.S. President?   I had no idea there was such obsessively detailed data collecting in handling food animals.  (The FDA and Medicare do not require such detail in dealing with sick humans.)    Are they looking for something like Bird Flu, hoof-and-mouth disease or mad-cow disease with all that detail?   Or is there any other legitimate reason for it?
       The LA Times published an article in the last few days about the extent to which chickens and roosters are being kept in R-1 zoned residential areas in the Hispanic community without any law enforcement–it’s illegal to maintain them in R-1 areas in Los Angeles.   So I wonder how they are monitoring the potential of bird flu under those circumstances.

  7. Bonnie P. says:

    @Zac: We are not fans of NAIS (see this post) for the very reasons you elucidate. I was not aware that Obama supported it and have just emailed the campaign to clarify whether that is the case, and if so why. As for one of his advisers being a member of the Pork Council, there I think you have confused him with Hillary Clinton, whose bedfellows we have squawked about previously.  

  8. Zac says:

    FoodieJoan, Send, but they are all familiar with this USDA push. This has been going on for years. As for chickens in L.A. in residential zones- What is the potential for bird flu? Does the potential increase just because a given are was labelled “residential”? No, of course not. It just makes a good story for a paper. We’ve seen more diseases go from CAFOs and large farms to humans than we have from backyard flocks and home processors to humans.
    I’d check with the campaign and see where he really is. had him on the “naughty” list, and there was an article I do not know where which supported this. Anyways, not sure of source so don’t quote. sorry for confusing him with Clinton with pork council thing. Everyone, take care, and find a local farmer and love them!