Horse cents versus common sense
By Trent Loos
Last week I told Blair Dunn that no soap opera on TV could outpace the happenings of just one family in New Mexico that simply wants to conduct a legal business by the name of Valley Meats. Rick de Los Santos and his family have spent the money to convert a cow harvesting facility into a much-needed horse harvesting plant, but Uncle Sam continues to throw up roadblocks. Dunn represents the family in their legal battles.
The biggest roadblock quite possibly came last week as President Barack Obama signed a temporary U.S. budget that—at the 11th hour—had a rider thrown in that defunds U.S. Department of Agriculture inspections for horse carcasses. Let’s look at this. The omnibus bill for 2014 accounts for spending $1.1 trillion and now has language that explicitly prohibits the USDA from performing the very job they are legally bound to conduct. How can that be constitutional at all and why doesn’t every other business owner in the country stand up to fight this? In one swipe of the pen, their business could be the next one eliminated.
I realize that I have been shouting at the top of my lungs since 2006 about people paying attention to what is happening in this country when they shut down horse harvesting, but it has been to very little avail. Unfortunately, we live in a time that until my ox is gored I am just going to hide so nobody starts looking into what I am doing.
I am speaking not only to the livestock commodity groups but also to everyone from grain handlers and manufacturers to food processors and biofuel plants. If someone in Congress does not like your business, they can bury language in some spending bill to shut you down. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Pork Producers Council, United Egg Producers, American Farm Bureau Federation, National Milk Producers Federation and many other representing organizations are negligent in protecting the future of all food business entities by not getting more active in supporting the New Mexico horse harvesting case. They are opening the door for Congress to continue exceeding its power through their efforts to withhold funding for horse meat inspections.
The closer you look at the omnibus spending bill, the more infuriated you will get.
A quick summary of the bill notes that some USDA and the Food and Drug Administration agencies will receive $350 million more than they did in fiscal year 2013. That amount includes $2.6 billion slated for FDA, a $91 million increase and a $20 million one-time boost to address citrus greening.
The legislation provides $1.5 billion for FSA, which is equal to the fiscal year 2013 enacted level. It provides a total of $2.4 billion for rural development programs, which is $180 million above the last year’s level. These programs help create an environment for economic growth by supporting basic infrastructure, providing loans to increase opportunities for rural businesses and industries, and helping “balance the playing field” in rural housing markets.
The legislation includes more than $1 billion for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, $19 million below the 2013 level. So we can give an extra $91 million to the FDA but we can’t even maintain the previous level of food safety and inspection. Instead of keep people safe and healthy, we will promote drugs to fix them after they get sick!
You don’t need to be much of an investigator to see that Uncle Sam is increasing the social engineering of where and how people live but reducing funding for providing a service that citizens actually need.
Our elected officials continue to give lip service about how to put Americans back to work, yet they keep throwing obstacles at anybody that tries to create a legitimate business that includes creating jobs. On the heels of a week that our nation celebrated the work of Martin Luther King Jr., I choose to close today with words he shared in a letter written April 16, 1963, while sitting in Birmingham jail: “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
It is long past the time that we need to start demanding what we want and expect of our government and stop hoping they will somehow voluntarily see what our country needs to succeed.
Editor’s note: Trent Loos is a sixth generation United States farmer, host of the daily radio show, Loos Tales, and founder of Faces of Agriculture, a non-profit organization putting the human element back into the production of food. Get more information at www.FacesOfAg.com, or email Trent at firstname.lastname@example.org.