The Poultry Farmer Liberation Front
Today's dose of regulatory nonsense:
Josh is a Mennonite friend who happens, by the grace of native talent and a powerful work ethic, to produce magnificent chickens. Raised on green growing pasture, they are never medicated, never fed artificial supplements or genetically selected to grow abnormally fast. They develop rich golden fat and a deep flavor, characteristics that have been more or less lost in modern, streamlined, highly efficient poultry production. Not surprisingly, Josh's chickens are in high demand among food cognoscenti and fine restaurants. A couple of years ago I began bringing Josh's chickens to my farmers' market stand to sell alongside our equally popular grassfed beef. Josh and I, in a classic entrepreneurial endeavor, have made these wholesome chickens available to happy, discerning customers who would otherwise be unable to justify a three-hour commute to buy a bird for dinner.
Josh processes his chickens on his farm under a legal exemption allowing him to avoid industrial (and expensive) processing plants. Each chicken he produces is clearly labeled as to origin, method of production, added ingredients (none); the label also cites the statute that allows him operate unmolested.
Recently he was informed by the Food Safety Inspection Service, the regulatory arm of the USDA, that he faced a "situation." They had discovered a chink in the otherwise protective "non-molestation" statute. Because he is marketing chickens to an intermediary (me), his product is therefore rendered illegal and he must desist. In a disturbing addendum the inspector also let slip that the USDA would be "willing and free of charge" to take over inspection of his facilities and that they would be "more than happy to help him get going," presumably in the chicken business.
Elsewhere in Reason: Joel Salatin, author of Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal, describes yet more dumb regulations that hamper small farms.