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August 2010 Archive for Top of Mind

RSS By: Jeanne Bernick, Top Producer

Jeanne, Top Producer Editor, grew up on a beef cattle operation in Southwest Missouri and now writes from the heart of corn country in Eastern Iowa.

More Regs No Solution to Bad Eggs

Aug 30, 2010


The salmonella outbreak that has affected a small percentage of the nation’s egg supply once again has painted American farmers as a bunch of bad eggs.

The public should rightly shun contaminated eggs. But should an outbreak of salmonella from one Iowa county necessitate even more government power over agriculture?

The Food and Drug Administration claims that it lacks sufficient authority and resources to inspect high-risk facilities, trace outbreaks, and issue mandatory recalls. They are arguing for passage of Senate Bill 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.

However, Washington already possesses enormous oversight, divided among some 15 agencies, including the FDA and the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Is the problem really a lack of resources? Or is it more that there are piles and piles of resources, so dense, that the agencies have become inert?

I would argue that a free market led by consumer choice does more for food safety than greater government regulation.

Have you met a mother of three who finds out-of-date eggs in her refrigerator, much less in a grocery store? American consumers vehemently reject foods that fail to meet their standards; and mothers have long memories. The grocery retailers and food producers who wish to remain in business will respond with voluntary food safety controls.

What happened with the recent salmonella outbreak is a travesty because it undermines consumer faith in agriculture; but one bad egg should not spoil the entire refrigerator. We need to let the consumer and free market do what they do best - allow food producers who are willing to go the extra mile to rise above the rest.

We do not need more government oversight for a couple of bad eggs.

'O Canada' Reminds Me of Home

Aug 02, 2010
Last week I left the flooded banks of the Mississippi River to fly to Western Canada and spent several days touring farm fields around Yorkton and Norquay, Saskatchewan. Except for standing in bright yellow canola and waving wheat fields, it felt like I was talking to farmers back home.
"This is one of the wettest springs we’ve ever seen," says Greg Hudye, who farms with his brother Ben in Norquay. "About 20% of the fields around here didn’t get planted. It just kept raining."
Indeed, heavy spring and summer rainfalls and flooding left 12 million prairie acres unseeded this spring and prompted the federal government and provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba to announce substantial relief aid for farmers dealing with income and production losses.
On the bright side, producers who planted on those moisture-laden fields are seeing the potential for record yields, according to crop analysts at the field days I attended. The Hudyes are hoping for 80-bu. wheat yields on their best fields.
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