FDA “Visits” Celebrated Organic Produce Farmer

February 25, 2014
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Growing wheat.This is not good news.

Jim Crawford started New Morning Farm in Maryland many decades ago. He was young and idealistic. He had little or no money and had to start small. He believed in sustainable agriculture and wanted to produce fresh and healthy produce to sell in farmers’ markets to the urban public. He succeeded and became increasingly well known both for his ideals and his produce.

This may be why the FDA picked him out for a site visit. An inspector appeared without warning and told him that his operation would have to change, according to the Los Angeles Times: “This is my badge. These are the fines. This is what is hanging over your head, and we want you to know that.” It didn’t matter that no health problem had ever been associated with Crawford’s impeccably run operation.

The Food Safety Modernization Act for the first time gave the FDA direct authority over our farms. We thought this was a very bad idea. We weren’t able to stop it, although we were able to eliminate crippling fees for small farms that were in the original bill and also to exempt some of the smallest farmers. Unfortunately this didn’t help Jim Crawford since he is no longer operating on a tiny scale as he was when he started.

It should have been obvious to everyone that putting the FDA in direct charge of farms was a terrible idea.

Much of the FDA’s budget is paid for by Big Pharma instead of the taxpayers, which creates a serious conflict of interest. Despite this funding from industry, the FDA publicly stated that it lacked both the funds and the expertise to do its job, even before farming was piled on. It continues to state that because of lack of funds it cannot do what it is required by statute to do—therefore it is operating lawlessly.

Most importantly, the FDA knows little or nothing about farming. This is already painfully obvious in some of the voluminous and detailed farm regulations it is writing.

The agency also has a well-established track record of issuing regulations that favor big business over small producers, regulations that overwhelm small producers with compliance costs and can put them out of business.

The FDA itself estimates that new produce regulations will cost $4,700 for very small farms, $13,000 for small farms, and $30,500 for large farms. If accurate, these estimates would drive many growers out of business and prevent new ones from starting up. But they are not likely to be accurate.

It appears that, among many other requirements, repeated outside audits will be required, and each one will cost $5,000. Bessemer Farms, located in Ohio, which is closing its produce production and switching to soybeans, estimates that complying with the new rules would cost $130,000, including the required outside inspections.

Produce operations selling less than $25,000 a year will be exempt, as will farms that sell directly to the public via a roadside stand or the like. This exemption will discourage small produce operations  from growing bigger, and will thus make the US even more reliant not only on giant farms, but also on imported foreign produce whose safety is even more uncertain.

This pattern of driving smaller operations out of business or keeping them small isn’t unique to the FDA. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has previously been on the farm but not quite in charge of it, does the same. Why is it necessary for many farmers to drive four or more hours to find a plant where they can process their livestock? Because the USDA has forced many small plants out of business with all their requirements, which include having a government inspector present.

In this case, the interests of big business and big government coincide. The big businesses get a government enforced monopoly for their area. The big government bureaucracies get a more manageable regulatory situation. It is hard enough for them to supervise the big businesses. They feel it’s too hard to regulate thousands of small businesses. And when they leave the government, they expect their next employer will be one of the big businesses.

Unfortunately, the result is that it is harder and harder for small, artisanal, and organic food producers to survive. We get more and more industrial agriculture, and as an unintended but direct consequence, less and less food safety. After all, the record could not be more clear: it is not the small food producers who are causing the contaminated food problem. It is the large, industrial farms that are doing so.

We don’t know yet how the new FDA regulations on produce and on farms in general will end up. There are plenty of worries, but the process will take years.

With your help, we will monitor and try to make the new regulations more reasonable, but with FDA inspectors already sending an intimidating inspector out to New Morning Farm, despite repeated pleas that they lack the staff and funding to do their real work, at the moment it doesn’t look good.

86 Responses to “FDA “Visits” Celebrated Organic Produce Farmer”

  1. Sherri says:

    Is it possible to get our farms divided up into smaller ones, that only produce the 25$ thousand or below.?


  2. Fatima El Fassi says:

    Organic farming is a threat to the industrial farming model, it is real and the people in control of promoting the destructive industrial farming methods know it. They are doing all they can to eliminate or reduce the influence of organic farming. They have the money and they have bought off many institutions and paid for regulations such as the Food Safety Modernization Act. To quote http://haveatree.com/what-is-organic-farming/ organic farming are the “farming methods our forefathers used…” These kids just don’t have any respect for the old ways, they only value profit.


  3. Theresa says:

    Boycotting corporate products is why this is happening. Many, many thousands of people are now wise to the industrial contamination of our food and are buying organic. The giants realize that as long as we have access to safe organic food, they will lose big time profits. It is well worth the investment to legislate organic farms and ranches out of business. Our access is getting smaller with each farm lost to excessive regulation and expense. Without supply, the will of the majority will falter and this could cost us the war. Question is, how do we stop this?


  4. Gail Jones says:

    Hit the government where it hurts in the pocket ! It’s tax time right???? Band together and refuse to send them money to use against you .Tax money is what they depend on to pay these people who are stomping all over your rights . THEY NEED MONEY >>>DON”T SEND IT !!!!


    • Awake says:

      that has to happen EN MASSE…we ALL have to stage a taxpayers revolt together…meanwhile…good luck…the IRS will be at your door..in your pockets..in your bank accounts..take your house and first born unless they get it all from you………the internet is a good medium for disseminating the idea…but we have to do it before it too is regulated beyond any possibility of exchanging ideas…other freedoms already out the door…watch your freedom of speech carefully..we should ‘take it to the streets’ on April 15th..taxpayer’s revolt..yeah!


  5. UpLateAgain says:

    We really don’t have to worry about this in the long run. The pending nation-wide financial collapse that our government is securing for us will make food of any stripe the nation’s most valuable commodity, and there really won’t be a government left to over see it.


  6. nospam says:

    Ridiculous article.
    “Much of the FDA’s budget is paid for by Big Pharma” – they are called user FEES. You make it sound like “BIG BAD PHARMA” pays the FDA kickbacks to do their bidding. Quite the opposite. The FDA collects fees (and fines) FROM the companies that they regulate.

    What were the violations this farm were cited for? You (not surprisingly) left this information out of your “news article”.


    • Jean Leclair says:

      I think you are taking this wrong. Haven’t you seen what has happen to our Health Care. What the Pharma is doing to our country. How many have to die because of their greed. Its about time we try to get rid of this government and go back to some decency. We cannot sit back and think others are going to do it. We need to band together and that means all of us. In regards to your comments you should be sure what you are reading.


  7. mandara flower says:

    What is sounds like is that the US FDA needs to be present at the big farms and facilities. But it applies the same rules to all farms regardless of their size. Could you imagine a large farm not being monitored by the US FDA ? Then we would be screaming about that.


  8. Linda Bauer says:

    We really need to have a law that requires that NO person who has worked for a company that has ANY connection with or would possibly gain anything for their past employed company if they become employed by the FDA, cannot be employed by the FDA for a minimum of 10 years. That way, at least, the swinging door would hopefully close. Maybe then we could get some decent things done by the FDA like they should be doing at this time.


  9. Cuauhtemoc says:

    Clearly the FDA is protecting Monsanto, Dupont, General Mills, Nestle, and big pharma interests before protecting the American people’s health. This is ridiculous!!!

    FDA: Please leave organic farms work and produce healthy food for us and our children!!!!


  10. vince says:

    First destroy high quality food…….increase the need for pharma….


  11. Gary Heger says:

    It sounds like the FDA received training from the IRS, given the stated attitude in the article. It appears Corporations/big business are gaining more and more control over government and how it functions, all to their benefit of course.


  12. Henry Schwartzman says:

    To fix the problem ,enforcing all parts of the Constitution, removing all violators of the Constitution from public office, and sending them to jail would be a good start.


  13. G. Artemis says:

    The question was asked , “What can we do?” If all of the people in this country are getting sick and tired of the way that the FDA, Monsanto, and Big Pharma are all determined to destroy the food supply or make it unsafe to eat, as it appears they are trying to do now, we can all be willing to put actions behind our words. If each one of us would simply take the time to sit down and write a letter to the President or the Congress, voicing our concerns and asking them to take action to stop this insanity, does everyone not realize how that could bring about some change? When hundreds and thousands of actual letters flood the government, as has been done in the past about other concerns, they get the message and change occurs. It is true that a letter in small amounts does nothing, but overwhelming them with hundreds of thousands does get attention. This is a simple plan of action that does not cost anyone anything but the cost of a postage stamp. Emails or signing petitions doesn’t seem to work anymore. Remember, “We, the people, are the Government”!!! and we have the power of using a vote or a letter, but we just don’t seem to want to do anything but complain.


  14. SeaBerg says:

    This happened here in Salt Lake City where I live. A small chicken farmer who has all free range chickens and are fed organic food. The point is is that we, the citizens need to fight locally. ANH and other fine organizations can do a lot, but we have to do all we can locally. Find out who your local farmer and ranchers are. Research on line, get info by going to your local farmers markets. Ask them what they are up against and offer to help them any way you can.

    Write your local representatives, call them. Tell others in the community. Buy local and never back down. The biggies still need us to buy from them to make money…if we don’t buy from them and support the locals that are organic it will make the biggest difference. If you want something to go away, stop buying it.


  15. Jan says:

    “These are the fines.” Fines for what?


  16. Humberto Quintero says:

    I am tired of goverment and big business working together in detriment of the people, the 99%. Greed, ignorance, lack of heart and vision for a better future for all is not in their agenda. Sad, so sad.


  17. Alberto Gutierrez says:

    Of course the U.S. government works to please and serve Big Money.


  18. Flower says:

    What were the charges? You failed to supply this detail.


  19. Dr. Judith Sutherland says:

    This is very concerning. I appreciate your watchfulness and keeping us informed. I buy solely organic foods and support organic farmers; it is critical to my health. Thank you for all you do.


  20. Rosa says:

    If small farmer are regulated out of business there goes the country. The idea of smaller government and less regulation is largely falling by wayside for the small farmer. It look like their will be less government for big farmer which is big business and the wealthy and more government for the small farmer who is trying to make a living and chasing the American Dream. Small farmer should be allowed to expand his farmer without being penalized. These penalty is not what America is about. America is about allowing people to work hard and prosper. This what the small farmer want to do. Work hard and prosper.


  21. Mary Ann Dorman says:

    Why does the FDA make money from anybody besides the American taxpayer? That is a conflict of interest. The public does not elect these individuals into office. We need to rein them in drastically.
    I have antibodies to almost all foods I ate for 22 years due to pain pills they approved which left my stomach bleeding and allowing food to enter directly into the bloodstream causing these antibodies. I have already had heart attacks due to these fierce reactions! This and Guilliam Barre disease from a FDA approved flu shot taken at the CDC in Atlanta in 1976 which actually killed more people than the flu did that year!
    I grow some of my own food because I do not trust the food labeling that is allowed nor the GMO foods that are so prevalent in the marketplace. None of GMO foods have been properly tested. Payoffs must be rampant for such a lack of scientific investigation and study! I fear for the health and well being of the American people. It is time to investigate the FDA thoroughly!
    I vote they not be allowed to make one penny from anyone except us and they answer to us only!


  22. brad roon says:

    It becomes even more important for EVERYONE to grow their own foods.

    And wasn’t a conscientious objector.


  23. I want to live a long time to see ‘what is around the next corner’, but it gets more discouraging all the time. I want to live in a healthy way, too, and that is increasingly in danger because of big agri-business and big pharma concerns. Their bottom line is all about profit. What about quality of food and quality of health and quality of life? I fear for the lives of my grandchildren and their grandchildren.


  24. Jill Madigan says:

    With they disturbing ‘events’, recalls, and unsavory chemical additions to the food supply coming from corporate food suppliers, not to mention the abusive treatment of factory farm animals, I, for one, have very little trust in the food I can buy in the conventional grocery stores. his inflexible butchering policy cannot be surmounted in some reasonable manner, would it be possible for someone who knows the business ans can handle the bureaucracy demands (or even the organic farmers to cooperatively) to reopen the small operations for a greatly reduced time-period, perhaps on some sort of rotation circuit so that the costs could be shared more equitably? I may have missed the point, but it’s a thought.


  25. Tom C Sullivan says:

    Quit taking money from Corp. and start thinking about the people that really pay taxs, This so called bought off goverment is to corrupt


  26. Daniel Gregg says:

    I suggest that we go to either a different currency or how about a whole different mode of operations.

    We farmers give away our produce and accept donations and have suggested donations. Farms could be set up as non-profit organizations with the purpose of feeding people!!

    Of course they could pass legislation against that as I heard they did somewhere making it illegal to feed the homeless.

    Everybody everywhere who has room could plant seeds and grow and eat the produce and share the abundance….


  27. Rachel Flanagan says:

    The FDA are going out of their way to crush local farmers. They no longer represent “we the people” but have become big pharma’s private muscle and have no problem putting undue
    burden on local farmers to crush them and make no safe food available
    to the millions who know GMO’s are slow poison. Now that the industrial
    food complex has figured out millions of Americas refuse to GMOS, their
    plan is to corner the organic market by putting locals out of business and
    replace it with corporate organic. The FDA gets their marching orders
    from Monsanto. Our government is bought and sold. God help America.


  28. Jim Park says:

    The FDA (Fraud and Death Administration) strikes again!


  29. M. Mayer says:

    This is just so Disturbing……..I don’t even know what to say. We have to keep fighting these issues……..otherwise we will lose all these great well meaning farmers. It reminds me of the old Cheese makers back in Wisconsin and other States. They made cheese the old fashion ways – and then they were FORCED to SELL to the BIG CHEESE FACTORIES……..Big BUSINEES……..it was so sad – how many Great Cheese Makers/ Families lost their Family Business to the New Regulations the Gov. imposed on them. I don’t know if we can WIN – but we have to keep Trying !!!!!


  30. Anton McInerney says:

    This is part of Monsantos attempt to control the country through controlling peoples health through controlling all food production. Already Europe and the Orient are rejecting their GMO produce. Unfortunately our present administration has been a Monsanto supporter and has received continual campaign contributions from them. It shows that most politicians are in it for the money and not the health and well being of the American people! Good riddance to another loser administration I hope they enjoy their offshore payoff money in what time remains for this corrupt system since that is all they are getting plus the memories of having been an iconic Presidency.


    • D. Taylor says:

      Monsanto is a weed that needs to be eradicated. Our hope is that our efforts at the polls can empower
      the Green Party to support intelligent honest farming.


  31. Jenelle Wright says:

    What can we do what can we do now to stop this?


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