As I write this, over 700 people have left comments – (697 documents, some with multiple signatures). One of my favorites from yesterday is:
I oppose USDA’s proposed definition of “naturally raised” because I think that phrase would falsely convey the impression of “free-range” to the public. I’m not an animal rights activist; I’m a carnivore. But misleading labeling should not be promoted.
There have been a tremendous reaction against the USDA’s proposal from homesteaders, small farmers, consumers, livestock organizations, state attorney generals and even Big Ag. I was surprised to see that a subsidiary of Smithfield didn’t like the proposed regulations. The company stinks and it is very odd to be fighting the same battle from the same side as them…
A few points to make:
1) The label is fundimentally missleading because it implies pasture, outdoors and free ranging yet allows for confinement feeding operations a.k.a. factory farms and CAFO’s. The USDA’s proposed “Naturally Raised” claims standard makes no mention of allowing access to the natural world. By the USDA’s standard you could raise animals in boxes they can’t turn around in, without fresh air and still call it “Naturally Raised” – that’s fundamentally wrong and deceptive labeling.
2) The standard bans feeding milk to pigs which is absurd. The USDA’s proposal bans the feeding of mammalian and avian by-products when it should be banning the feeding of mammalian and avian slaughter by-products. Without the word slaughter in there it is unclear if the feeding of dairy (e.g., milk, whey, cottage cheese, yogurt, cheese trim, etc) is acceptable food. Dairy is an excellent, natural, high quality, protein rich food for pigs and chickens and a good way of recycling excess on the farm, from local cheese processors and dairies. Dairy and eggs are superior feeds for inclusion in swine diets and should be allowed for the entire life of the hogs. The origin of this ban is the Mad Cow scare which is all about ruminants and has nothing to do with pigs, chickens, milk or cheese. The USDA is using bad science and overly broad regulations which do not solve any problems.
3) There is an existing private, farmer and consumer organized Certified Naturally Grown program with far higher standards which are published right on their web site for all to see. The USDA knows about those standards because they approved my meat label for our pastured pork last year with the CNG logo and standards and I personally directed them to that web site and provided them with a printed copy of the entire standards as well as our certification. By the USDA setting their own standards at such a low level they are diluting and destroying the existing term and certification that has taken years to develop. Government should not compete with the private sector and it should certainly not destroy existing standards.
4) Animal welfare is not addressed at all in the USDA’s proposed standard thus allowing for the use of gestation and farrowing grating, battery cages and other inhumane conditions. When we think of “Naturally Raised” beef, pork, turkey, chicken or lamb we’re not imagining an animal kept in a tiny box without access to sunlight, grass and Mother Earth.
5) Genetically Modified Oganisms (GMOs) are allowed under the USDA’s proposal as “Natural”. Whoa. Monstersanto all over again. GMOs are manmade, patented and industrialized. There’s nothing natural in GMOs.
6) Cloned Animals are allowed by the USDA’s proposal. Clones may be fine to eat at Micky-D’s but they are not “Natural”. Clones are man made, patentable and like GMOs, anything but natural.
The USDA’s proposal is the antithesis of “Naturally Grown” and a travesty against common sense. Make sure they know it. Leave your comments now and ask everyone you can to do so too. Here’s the Federal Registry comment link again.
Go to that page and then click on the top little comment balloon over on the right side of the page to get to the actual comment page.
After you have commented, scroll down to the bottom and press the “Next Step” button.
A new page that appears showing your comment.
Scroll down and click the “Submit button in the lower right to actually submit your comment.
A new page appears with a “Thank you” in the upper left. That page also has a number on it to refer to your comment. It then takes up to several days for your comment to actually show up in the Federal Registry.
I have been downloading comments as have several other people to make sure the USDA does not ignore the chorus of voices speaking out against their proposal.
If you don’t jump through all their hurdles, they throw your comment away. Make sure you are heard. Take your time and get that “Thank you” message at the end.
Outdoors: 29°F/-5°F Overcast 2″ Snow
Farm House: 57°F/44°F New Pig Carrier for van
Tiny Cottage: 65°F/54°F