When the conventional food system showed its fragility during the COVID shut-downs, local producers kept feeding their communities with high-quality meat, eggs, dairy, and produce. Artisanal small businesses provide fermented foods, kombucha, and many more foods vital for nourishing our communities.
Yet these local farmers and artisanal producers all too often face unnecessary difficulties created by government regulations, policies, and programs.
Now we have a rare opportunity to urge USDA to change! The disruptions in the food system over the last year have led President Biden to direct the USDA to submit a report that assesses the supply chains for the production of agricultural commodities and food products.
As part of developing that report, USDA is accepting public comments on “Supply Chains for the Production of Agricultural Commodities and Food Products” until June 21. The agency will also consider the public comments in its decision on how to spend stimulus funds, since it has been directed to increase durability and resilience within the U.S. food supply.
This is an important opportunity to talk about the significance of localized, decentralized food systems – and to give the agency specific action steps that would help move us to those systems!
In writing your comments, please try to include (1) examples of the challenges farmers and other food producers face in raising, processing, and marketing their products; and (2) specific action items that would help small-scale and diversified producers to build resilient, diversified systems.
Note that the USDA cannot change statutory law. So issues such as the requirement that meat be processed in an inspected slaughterhouse are outside the scope of this comment period. But the agency can change its own regulations, policies, and where it directs funding – so there is a lot that it can do to address problems with that meat inspection program, for example.
Topics to consider including in your comments:
- Meat processing: USDA should take steps to support the continuation and establishment of new small- and mid-sized operations.
- Share your own story about meat processing. Farmers: Were you able to provide meat during the meatpacker shutdowns last spring? Or have you been unable to because of a lack of processing? Consumers: What did you see during the pandemic? From whom did you get meat?
- As a small farmer or processor, what changes do you think are needed? Remember to focus on things that are in the regulations and policies, as well as direct relief funding for financial support, not statutory changes that are beyond the agency’s ability to change.
- Consider expressing support for these policy changes:
- Revise USDA’s policy governing multiple owners of animals that are processed in custom-exempt slaughterhouses. The USDA currently requires that the custom slaughterhouse record each owner and do the division of the meat, which makes it impractical for more than 4 people to co-own an animal. But the statute and regulations merely provide that the meat must be for the personal or household use of the owners. If USDA modified its policy, then “animal shares” could be far more flexible, allowing farmers and consumers to agree to use custom processors. In effect, we could implement the Wyoming herd share law without the need for new state statutes if USDA makes a simple policy change.
- Reform the scale-prejudicial regulations and policies on small-scale slaughterhouses, including: (1) prioritize inspector availability for small-scale processors and provide training specific to small-scale processors; (2) revise the pathogen testing and process-control testing to ensure that small plants are tested proportionally to large plants; (3) reduce the difficulty and expense in developing HACCPs by providing model HACCPs, posting applicable peer-reviewed research, and identifying the control points for different types of products.
- The agency needs to stop adopting regulations and policies that are scale-prejudicial. For example, electronic animal ID is much more expensive for small-scale producers, yet the benefits flow to the large players and exporters.
- Share your concerns about electronic ID, both its impact on you and on others in the industry. Do you run your animals in pasture conditions where they are more likely to lose tags, increasing the time and monetary expense? Does your local sale barn have infrastructure for running all electronic ID or would it be forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars to install it? Would your veterinarian have to buy new equipment to deal with an electronic system?
- Other areas of needed infrastructure, whether physical (such as commercial kitchens and storage) or logistical (support for food hubs, farmers markets, etc.): What do you see as needed to build resilient, vibrant local food systems? Again, this can involve changing regulations, policy and guidance documents, or providing funding through USDA programs.
You can submit your comment online at
DEADLINE: Monday, June 21
Dave Cullen presents some things that you might want to be considering in the light of all that we are being coerced into giving up right now.
Check it out:
Beef Prices Soar To Record High As Meatpacking Plants Shutter
Wholesale American beef prices jumped 6% to a record high of $330.82 per 100 pounds, a 62% increase from the lows in February, according to Bloomberg, citing new USDA data.
The surge in beef prices comes at a time when the nation’s food supply chain network has been severely damaged by meatpacking plants going offline due to virus-related shutdowns and worker shortage. Bloomberg highlights the latest plant closures in the map below:
Soaring food inflation came one day after President Trump said he would be issuing an executive order to address meat shortages.
“Because of the virus, meat slaughtering is 40% below where it needs to be to handle all of the animals coming to market, said Arlan Suderman,” chief commodities economist at INTL FCStone.
“Processing plants were generally in favor of the executive order that would give them liability cover when reopening,” Suderman said. “Yet, the order still does not solve the problem of employee absenteeism.” At least 20 workers in meat and food processing have died and 5,000 have tested positive or forced to self-quarantine due to coronavirus, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers International union.
Just days ago, Tyson Foods warned in a full-page ad in the New York Times on Sunday that the “food supply chain is breaking.”
And with tens of millions of Americans out of work, a crashed economy that is plunging into depression, and rapid food inflation — this could all suggest that the evolution of the virus crisis is not just an economic crisis but also social instabilities are ahead.
2019 is turning out to be a nightmare that never ends for the agriculture industry. Thanks to endless rain and unprecedented flooding, fields all over the middle part of the country are absolutely soaked right now, and this has prevented many farmers from getting their crops in the ground. I knew that this was a problem, but when I heard that only 30 percent of U.S. corn fields had been planted as of Sunday, I had a really hard time believing it. But it turns out that number is 100 percent accurate. And at this point corn farmers are up against a wall because crop insurance final planting dates have either already passed or are coming up very quickly. In addition, for every day after May 15th that corn is not in the ground, farmers lose approximately 2 percent of their yield. Unfortunately, more rain is on the way, and it looks like thousands of corn farmers will not be able to plant corn at all this year. It is no exaggeration to say that what we are facing is a true national catastrophe.
According to the Department of Agriculture, over the past five years an average of 66 percent of all corn fields were already planted by now…
U.S. farmers seeded 30% of the U.S. 2019 corn crop by Sunday, the government said, lagging the five-year average of 66%. The soybean crop was 9% planted, behind the five-year average of 29%.
Soybean farmers have more time to recover, but they are facing a unique problem of their own which we will talk about later in the article.
But first, let’s take a look at the corn planting numbers from some of our most important corn producing states. I think that you will agree that these numbers are almost too crazy to believe…
Iowa: 48 percent planted – 5 year average 76 percent
Minnesota: 21 percent planted – 5 year average 65 percent
North Dakota: 11 percent planted – 5 year average 43 percent
South Dakota: 4 percent planted – 5 year average 54 percent
Yes, you read those numbers correctly.
Can you imagine what this is going to do to food prices?
Many farmers are extremely eager to plant crops, but the wet conditions have made it impossible. The following comes from ABC 7 Chicago…
McNeill grows corn and soybeans on more than 500 acres in Grayslake. But much of his farmland is underwater right now, and all of it is too wet to plant. Rain is a farmer’s friend in the summer but in the spring too much rain keeps farmers from planting.
The unusually wet spring has affected farmers throughout the Midwest, but Illinois has been especially hard hit. Experts say with the soil so wet, heavy and cold, it takes the air out and washes nutrients away, making it difficult if not impossible for seeds to take root.
Right now, soil moisture levels in the state of Illinois “are in the 90th to 99th percentile statewide”. In other words, the entire state is completely and utterly drenched.
As a result, very few Illinois farmers have been able to get corn or soybeans in the ground at this point…
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s crop progress reports, about 11% of Illinois corn has been planted and about 4% of soybeans. Last year at this time, 88% of corn and 56% of soybeans were in the ground.
I would use the word “catastrophe” to describe what Illinois farmers are facing, but the truth is that what they are going through is far beyond that.
Normally, if corn farmers have a problem getting corn in the ground then they just switch to soybeans instead. But thanks to the trade war, soybean exports have plummeted dramatically, and the price of soybeans is the lowest that it has been in a decade.
As a result there is very little profit, if any, in growing soybeans this year…
Farmers in many parts of the corn belt have suffered from a wet and cooler spring, which has prevented them from planting corn. Typically when it becomes too late to plant corn, farmers will instead plant soybeans, which can grow later into the fall before harvest is required. Yet now, planting soybeans with the overabundance already in bins and scant hope for sales to one of the biggest buyers in China, could raise the risk of a financial disaster.
And if the wet conditions persist, many soybean farms are not going to be able to plant crops at all this year.
Sadly, global weather patterns are continuing to go haywire, and much more rain is coming to the middle of the country starting on Friday…
Any hopes of getting corn and soybean planting back on track in the U.S. may be washed away starting Friday as a pair of storms threaten to deliver a “one-two punch” of soaking rain and tornadoes across the Great Plains and Midwest through next week.
As much as 3 to 5 inches (8 to 13 centimeters) of rain will soak soils from South Dakota and Minnesota south to Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, according to the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.
We have never had a year quite like this before, and U.S. food production is going to be substantially below expectations. I very much encourage everyone to get prepared for much higher food prices and a tremendous amount of uncertainty in the months ahead.
Even though I have been regularly documenting the nightmarish agricultural conditions in the middle of the country, the numbers in this article are much worse than I thought they would be at this point in 2019.
This is truly a major national crisis, and it is just getting started.
About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.
Blamed for Bee Collapse, Monsanto Buys Leading Bee Research Firm
Contributing Writer for Wake Up World
Monsanto, the massive biotechnology company being blamed for contributing to the dwindling bee population, has bought up one of the leading bee collapse research organizations. Recently banned from Poland with one of the primary reasons being that the company’s genetically modified corn may be devastating the dying bee population, it is evident that Monsanto is under serious fire for their role in the downfall of the vital insects. It is therefore quite apparent why Monsanto bought one of the largest bee research firms on the planet.
It can be found in public company reports hosted on mainstream media that Monsanto scooped up the Beeologics firm back in September 2011. During this time the correlation between Monsanto’s GM crops and the bee decline was not explored in the mainstream, and in fact it was hardly touched upon until Polish officials addressed the serious concern amid the monumental ban. Owning a major organization that focuses heavily on the bee collapse and is recognized by the USDA for their mission statement of “restoring bee health and protecting the future of insect pollination” could be very advantageous for Monsanto.
In fact, Beelogics’ company information states that the primary goal of the firm is to study the very collapse disorder that is thought to be a result — at least in part — of Monsanto’s own creations. Their website states:
“While its primary goal is to control the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV) infection crises, Beeologics’ mission is to become the guardian of bee health worldwide.”
What’s more, Beelogics is recognized by the USDA, the USDA-ARS, the media, and ‘leading entomologists’ worldwide. The USDA, of course, has a great relationship with Monsanto. The government agency has gone to great lengths to ensure that Monsanto’s financial gains continue to soar, going as far as to give the company special speed approval for their newest genetically engineered seed varieties. It turns out that Monsanto was not getting quick enough approval for their crops, which have been linked to severe organ damage and other significant health concerns.
Steve Censky, chief executive officer of the American Soybean Association, states it quite plainly. It was a move to help Monsanto and other biotechnology giants squash competition and make profits. After all, who cares about public health?
“It is a concern from a competition standpoint,” Censky said in a telephone interview.
It appears that when Monsanto cannot answer for their environmental devastation, they buy up a company that may potentially be their ‘experts’ in denying any such link between their crops and the bee decline.
About the Author
Anthony Gucciardi is an accomplished investigative journalist with a passion for natural health. Anthony’s articles have been featured on top alternative news websites such as Infowars, NaturalNews, Rense, and many others. Anthony is the co-founder of Natural Society, a website dedicated to sharing life-saving natural health techniques.