It's rare that zillions of major news happens all on the same day. Or same week. Well, not all on the topic of food, at least. Usually the news is more spread out - a little Karl Rove here, a little Afghanistan there... but right now there's a LOT of big deal major super big important news all going on right in my little corner of the world. Wow!
So follow along below cuz if you eat, you want to know this...
Two new USDA appointments: Jim Miller and Dallas Tonsager. Looks to me like neither is going to rock the boat in a big way but might make some tweaks in the right direction here and there. They are definitely a step up from the Bush era trend of appointing the fox to the henhouse, and some of their pasts signal they might have progressive tendencies here and there.
Our yogurt is in danger. The FDA's moving on a request from the yogurt industry to allow them to replace milk in yogurt with imported "MPC" - which is a substance that's left over from milk after you remove all of the good stuff. It's cheap, and it undercuts American dairy farmers (who are in a state of crisis as it is) and screws over consumers. Take action here. (Also, see my photo diary on how to NOT make your own yogurt... then read the comments for suggestions on how to make your own yogurt.)
Almonds are having a bad week too - A court case attempting to get rid of the almond "pasteurization" requirement was dismissed. The case was brought against the USDA by 18 farm families whose businesses are being hurt. The law they are fighting essentially forces American raw almonds to be sprayed with toxic gas ("pasteurized") and then they are still labeled as "raw" at the store.
The House Ag Committee held a hearing on the National Animal ID System this week. I wrote up the written testimony (Part 1 and Part 2) but there are a few take-aways from this hearing. My small farmer friends tell me this is going to absolutely wipe out American small farms and it will even hurt pet owners (if you have a horse or a pot-bellied pig, for example).
The testimony was strongly pro-mandatory NAIS (currently it's "voluntary" but getting more mandatory daily) and that's bad. It seems that the real reason behind NAIS is to maintain our export markets. But what about us Americans who just want to eat sustainably raised animal products? Why should we suffer by having our farmers go out of business and being forced to buy from factory farms instead? Why are we putting the rest of the world ahead of our own people on this?
Lots and lots and lots of news about food safety bill HR 875. There's been absolute hysteria going around the internet saying that this bill will ban you from gardening in your backyard (it won't) or it will kill all farmers' markets (it won't). That said - the bill IS flawed in some ways AND there's a bill more likely to pass, which is HR 759, John Dingell's bill. And that bill is WORSE than HR 875.
Bad news from Kansas - The KS state house ag committee passed a bill to ban rbGH-free labeling. If you live in KS, write your state legislator about this. If you DON'T live in KS, don't take action (yet).
Desmoinesdem tells us the details on pig poop. This is about a controversy over pork (har har) in the spending bill that just passed. Apparently the CAFOs in Iowa are using federal "studies" about the smell of their disgusting factory farms as a stall method to avoid being regulated, and we taxpayers are footing the bill.
American modern day slavery is in the news. A group of activists visited the farm workers who pick tomatoes in Immokalee, FL to see what goes on with their own eyes. If you eat tomatoes in the winter, good chance they were picked by these farm workers who have to pick a TON (literally) of tomatoes each day just to make $50 for the day.
RiaD tells about GMO deregulation and urges us to take action. The action link is here if you want to go straight to it, but read RiaD's diary for more info.
More news coming soon about antibiotics in livestock. I haven't written it up but Louise Slaughter (I heart her!) is behind a new bill to ban certain antibiotics from use in livestock. This is major, given the recent headlines about the prevalence of MRSA (i.e. drug-resistant bacteria) in humans AND animals on factory hog farms in the midwest. I'll post details on my site when I get 'em.
So that's all of my BIG news that's going on. Phew. I'm exhausted now. My poor little hands are tired from typing. I'm gonna go fill up the hot water bottle but I hope you help me spread the word around on these things and take action where necessary.