Government to Bail Out Tainted Tomato Industry?

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-FL) plans to introduce legislation to give tomato growers and shippers $100 million in compensation for their losses due to the recent salmonella outbreak.

The WSJ states that the FDA has listed its ban on the tainted vegetable, while the CDC says that there still may be more cases not yet reported which resulted from tomatoes. More than 1200 people were sickened in this latest produce disaster.

Congress has scheduled several hearings next week concerning the salmonella outbreak and why thee was such a lengthy delay in determining the cause.

The sought-after amount is based on an estimate from Florida growers and includes crops abandoned in the field, products thrown out by retailers and tomatoes forced to be sold as low as $5 a box, compared with as much as $20 in a normal market, said Reggie Brown, executive vice president of the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange, a cooperative of tomato farmers. The Agriculture Department hasn’t released a firm estimate of the cost to farmers or distributors.

Call me crazy, but shouldn’t we try to figure out exactly what happened first, before we opt to shovel $100 million dollars to any industry? Especially one which may be at fault?

Consumer advocates oppose the bill. Sarah Klein, a staff attorney at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said the food-industry lobby over the years has weakened federal food-safety oversight, and consumers shouldn’t foot the bill now. “We’d like to see the industry focusing on how to prevent these outbreaks for the future to protect consumers and their bottom line,” she said.

Gee, you don’t say?

Oh, and watch those Jalepeno peppers. They’re still hot. The FDA and CDC found a single pepper tainted with the Saintpaul strain of salmonella in Texas.

It’s time we rethink how we eat. Much of our food is shipped from China, Thailand and other parts unknown. This is a waste of energy and the food we get no longer tastes as it once did. This is done so Big Agra can make tons-o-money and control the food we eat. The costs to the consumer are skyrocketing.

What can you do? Several thing. Buy local! Go to local farmer’s markets. most communities have them weekly throughout the growing season. Support those people who grow food near you. Find a local co-op or grower. Consider doing the same with your meat. Find a local rancher and buy in bulk. No more downer cow issues when you can personally inspect how the animals are raised.

For more information go to Eat Wild. Remind your taste buds what real food tastes like! And feel more secure in the foods that you do eat.

Bon Apetit!

Cross posted at Think Left. Live Right.

9 thoughts on “Government to Bail Out Tainted Tomato Industry?

  1. I shouldn’t have recycled the morning paper already. I know there was something in there about Congress(?) moving to ensure that the food industry institute real tracking mechanisms so that the source of outbreaks like this can be tracked in a timely manner.

    Me? I buy my food from local groceries that use only local (mostly organic) farmers and ranchers. When the Oregon strawberries run out, I give up on strawberries entirely for another year.

  2. Excellent post! It gives me an idea. Let’s put a virus on our blog and wait for the government to bail us out. Works for oil. Works for tomatoes. Why not me? Oh, sorry. I am foreign. Damnit.

  3. I guess industry doesn’t have to worry about the safety of their products when they’re going to get bailed out if they mess up. Of course everybody who got ill will have a big fat hospital bill that they’ll have to pay 20% of. Where’s their bailout?

    And if we had a national health care program that 20% wouldn’t amount to $5K.

  4. The Rutgers toms that we planted in our bull (Or is that Bush?) shit garden are doing quite nicely, thank-you. We buy the stuff at Walmart 😳 and let it compost for two years. We did Supersonics last year, but they shriveled up in the Florida sun. Looked like octogenarian grape toms, sorta like McCain.

  5. Angryafrican, that’s funny! Suffice it to say…don’t hold your breath!

    Welcome to TheZoo! I haven’t seen you before (or, welcome to ME if you’re a long timer).

    I don’t necessarily begrudge the tomato growers. But I certainly want to know what, why, when, how it happened and how to prevent it from happening again.

    The way we piss away money, a hundred mil ain’t nuthin’. But as a gift? No.

    (As an aside, they are private industry and as such I think private insurance is a better way to go. Hell, it’s forced on us for everything. But that’s another story. I have friends who are farmers in KS. A moderately small operation, maybe 1000 leased acres or so. This would wipe them out for an entire year. They have one growing season which then sustains them for the remaining months. It is unlikely they would be bailed out by the government for, say, flooding. I am not aware, is anything being done for the farmers along the Mississippi?)

    My problem comes in with pork going to FL but not other places. Tomatoes are but one crop. Is this a precedent? What about if those jalapeño peppers go south?

    If I had my druthers, I would prefer to see $100,000,000 go into the various safety commissions. Under this administration or a McCain administration, never going to happen.

    Clinton did a decent job. I hope Obama does, too. After everything you mentioned above, we certainly need it.

  6. When I was a teen, my parents would team up with another family and buy a steer. This was in Texas and the animal was ranch raised and not sent to a feed-lot. We had a 30 CF freezer and would stuff it with the harvest. Since it was aged for 4 months before butchering, it was tender and tasteful. Not like the lottery we are running today.

  7. Our food supply is something that is near and dear to my heart. I’ll bet this $100 million isn’t going to any “small” farm. This money will be place in the hands of farms that are controlled by the “Monsantos” of this country.

    I was at a group event last evening where ordinary citizens were asked by the Obama campaign to put together what we felt needs to be on the Democratic platform for 2008. An issue that everyone agreed that needs to be included on the platform is agriculture. We need safe food and we don’t need to have our food supply owed by a mega corporation… Monsanto.

    I don’t feel sorry for the tomato growers in Florida for losing their crops. I do however, feel some sympathy for their being conned by “Big Ag” into giving up their safe and productive farming practices to become slaves to the industry.

    Tainted food is terrorism.

  8. Cats:
    Does Mrs. Neuswanger (How the hell do you spell that) farm still sell stuff on the wat to Topton. She must be long dead but I assume the family still has the farm

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