Thursday, April 15, 2010

Corporate Takeover of Food Production Continues::: Small meat plants feel threatened by USDA's new regs

One would think that there was a plan to remove all independence from food production. The agriculture bill from hell (HR 2749) passed the House too, which some say will kill the private organic market.

Soon only the huge corporations will be able to stay in business with the government, and if it's pleasing government that's the most vital part of being a successful business, then the government has really really grown just too damn big.

EAGLE GROVE - Across the U.S. small meat processing plant owners are hoping for an 11th hour development that will prevent the U.S. Department of agriculture from implementing a new set of regulations that will force them out of business.

The new regulations, proposed by the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service will require an extensive battery of testing for meat processing products, intended for commercial retail, to validate each plant's effectiveness in assuring food safety.

On the surface, it sounds like a good thing. But for plant owners like Paul Bubeck, of Lewright Meats in Eagle Grove, and thousands more like him, the new layer of testing will be cost prohibitive.

Bubeck and wife, Barbara, took over operation of Lewright Meats in 1981. Barbara Bubeck's family started the plant in 1936. In 2009, Ethan Bubeck, the couple's son and his wife, Shanae, joined the company.

Bubeck said all meat processors, regardless of size, already follow an exacting array of procedures and monitoring protocols to assure food safety, and cannot understand the need for the expanded tests.

According to Dr. Gary Johnson, bureau chief for the state's meat and inspection department, a division of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the new regulations are designed to validate if the existing protocols are working.

The problem is that a large amount of meat products must be shipped to inspection labs for a battery of expensive tests for which the plants themselves must cover the cost.

In Bubeck's case, the initial tally for the extensive tests will cost $455,592. That would be followed by an annual ongoing series of tests tallying $140,182.

He said there's no way he could afford those tests.

"I won't do it," he said. "I'll close the place down first."


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