So This Is What Ag Deregulation Looks Like

There’s a very old joke that some economists and business school professors like to use for how dairy cows explain different economic systems. It goes like this:

Socialism: You have two cows. The government takes one and gives one to your neighbor.

Communism: You have two cows. The government takes them both and promises you milk but you starve.

Capitalism: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.

Fascism: You have two cows. The government takes them and sells you the milk.

Usually the definition of capitalism is the punch line, but increasingly, fascism is the punch line in the U.S. The joke, of course, can’t capture the subtleties of each economic system, and in the case of fascism, it can’t allow for fascism’s push for a corporate-based state (to sell you the milk). In the U.S., that would be the continuation of a trend long in the works, now with a huge exclamation point provided by the Trump administration.

One of the most convincing indications of this acceleration of the move toward fascism comes at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In a lengthy account by Vanity Fair magazine of changes at the agency, we learn that much of the “drain the swamp” talk seems to relate to helping large corporations.

Of course, USDA  wasn’t just dubbed “U.S. Duh” by farmer-celebrity Joel Salatin entirely as a joke. His sarcasm has been based on the agency’s perceived over-regulation of meat and meat slaughtering, which often penalizes small farms. So the hope by many from the last election was that Trump would send people to run USDA who would reduce and adjust regulations that make it so costly and troublesome for owners of small farms to get their chickens, cattle, and pigs slaughtered.

The initial Trump approach to USDA wasn’t very promising—its secretary was the last cabinet position filled, and the nominee, Sonny Perdue, came from the Big Ag side of farming. It doesn’t appear that things have improved, according to the lengthy Vanity Fair report.

The article indicates that the main swamp-draining steps have had to do with cutting back even further on an already very tight food stamp program, eliminating funding for climate science research, preparing to reduce safety inspections on chickens, and ending grants for rural development. Eliminating climate research reduces constraints on major corporations that burn lots of carbon energy.  And on the last point, about ending rural development grants, the fear among USDA veterans is that the funds USDA disbursed will now go to big banks to hand out in the form of commercial loans and such. There’s nothing about reducing regulations to help small locally-oriented farms. And as I pointed out in my previous blog post about camel milk, the FDA’s agenda of helping Big Ag food producers continues to hum along.

Shifting huge sums of money to corporations seems to be a recurring theme in the new administration. Its centerpiece legislative proposal of cutting taxes seems designed mainly to increase profits for large corporations by lowering corporate tax rates. Consumers will get lower tax rates as well, but those lower rates will be offset by reducing or eliminating long standing deductions for home mortgage interest and state taxes, among other items. The net effect will be to increase taxes for many people, mainly those in states that have voted Democratic.


The stated intent is for the corporations to create jobs, but of course there is no guarantee of that. Many large corporations simply accumulate extra profits in offshore banks—Apple, for example, regularly moves around more than $100 billion to the most tax-advantageous tiny countries, rather than allow the money to be taxed in the U.S., where it could be invested in new jobs.

As far as job creation goes, the reality since the 1970s has been that small and medium size fast-growing companies, not major corporations, create the bulk of the country’s new jobs.

I could go on, of course, about recent events that smack of fascism. But I’ll just conclude with a definition of fascism from Merriam-Webster: “Fascism—a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.”

We’ve seen the nationalism (“America first”), the racism (against mostly non-white immigrants), the absence of support for democratic institutions, and the talk of political suppression (against the media and political opponents). But as we well know, the “economic and social regimentation” often starts with food.


Signs that Canada may have caught some of the fascist bug came in today’s sentencing of Ontario raw dairy farmer Michael Schmidt to 60 days in jail. This sentence, for obstruction, comes in connection with his involvement with his farm’s shareholders in preventing government agents from confiscating farm food and equipment. If there’s any good news it is that he can serve the sentence on weekends.

21 comments to So This Is What Ag Deregulation Looks Like

  • JHeckman

    Closing comments of Francis Thicke at end of his NOSB term. November 2, 2017:
    There are two important things that I have learned during my five years on the NOSB. First, I learned that the NOSB review process for materials petitioned for inclusion on the National List is quite rigorous, with Technical Reviews of petitioned materials and careful scrutiny by both NOSB subcommittees and the full board.
    The second thing I learned, over time, is that industry has an outsized and growing influence on USDA—and on the NOSB (including through NOSB appointments)—compared to the influence of organic farmers, who started this organic farming movement. Perhaps that is not surprising, given the growing value of organic sales. As organic is becoming a $50 billion business, the industry not only wants a bigger piece of the pie, they seem to want the whole pie.
    Read more here:
    Keep the Soil in Organic:

  • Ken Conrad Ken Conrad

    I hold a dim view of Ontario’s government and so-called system of Justice…
    It is abhorrent to say the least to see what politician and bureaucrats get away with in this Province. It wasn’t justice he and his fellow cow share members was obstructing… it was injustice!!!

  • Bob

    With a low unemployment rate at around 4.5%, it’s highly unlikely that any stimulus will create more jobs. The current corporate tax cuts proposed as “tax reform” will probably not change the employment rate, but will fatten those off-shore accounts. Demand for product creates jobs, simple as that. Re-building our infrastructure would have created more jobs but congress thinks that corporations need that money more than we need roads or bridges. Corporations have no qualms about shipping all their products over these roads, though. Remember when Trump took office and promised, “We will create the first class infrastructure our country and our people deserve”?
    On a happier note, Sam Clovis, the USDA Chief Scientist nominee, withdrew his nomination. The guy had zero science or agricultural experience and was another in a line of “anti-science” people who was a strong promoter of corporate ag. AKA, another corporate tool with no expertise in the field he was to head. Good riddance.

  • Richard Barrett

    As a responds to Michael Schmidt being sentenced, I would like to have all Canadians request that the Food and Drug Act be amended to allow all farms that are Certified by the Raw Milk Institute to sell raw milk to consumers. This has been mentioned by many politicians and even a Doctor I know in Calgary. To get the names, email addresses, and phone #s of the Federal members go to Start with e-mailing the Liberal Party, one member at a time. To access them, go to the right side of the site and click on Conservatives to get Liberals, click under a Liberal member’s picture to pull up the information on the member. After emailing, send the same request by Free postage, followed by a phone call. The questions to ask is 1. Are you in favour of Amending the Food and Drug Act? 2. Will you support the Amendment? They may not be in favour of it but will support it if their party is willing to pass it. After a month, push for answers. When you get an answer,record or send them to me at [email protected]. We have to get at least 80% on our side. Add raw milk research webs to your request. Thanks Mark McAfee for your offer to help. May God help us. We need a miracle.

    • Gordon S Watson

      ​the post by Richard Barret is a classic example of the maxim that ‘One must first of all UN-learn what he thinks he knows, before you can learn what truly is’. No doubt he’s a man of good will, but he is wasting everyone’s time / energy barking up the wrong tree. After getting an interview with Health Canada, at which meeting Sally Fallon educated the bureaucrats about REAL MILK, yet nothing ever came of it … 10 years ago, James Mclaren admitted I’d been right all along ; that each province can do what it wants vis-a-vis raw milk for human consumption.

      Mister Barrett’s error, is, presuming that ” nothing is permitted accept that for which permission is given by the state’. As though we have to go hat-in-hand, tugging our forelock, petitioning for a “right to feed ourselves”. Versus the premise of British common law : liberty under law. That law being ; the law of the God of Israel, namely Jesus Christ. See the difference?

      every time I go ’round this, here, what comes through, is: the ignorance of Canadians for our system of government… blithely accepting what’s dictated from on=high rather than going to the source documents, getting the facts, then thinking for yourself. ‘Til I got involved in the so-called “De-Tax Movement” circa 1998, I, too, was a tragic example of what comes out of the Public fool system

      The British North America Act of 1867 … a Statute of the Realm of Great Britain, to this day … = the foundational law of the land … had its name changed by race traitors in high places so as to hide our heritage of (what used to be) our white Christian nation. The bit of stagecraft when Her Majesty the Queen came to Ottawa for the signing ceremony, “re=Patriation”, was a hoax …. staged by the Red Fascists as they progress towards their ages-long goal of the first plank of the Communist Manifesto : elimination of private property.

      “Health” is NOT one of the powers of the central government of Canada, under the British North America Act Thus, any federal law pretending to do with “health” is irrelevant to having REAL MILK de-criminalized in British Columbia. A cow owned by a British Columbian ( or, jointly owned by several such Persons) is an item of private property. Thus, the usufruct of such chattel is, itself, more private property. And private property falls under provincial jurisdiction concerning “civil rights’.

      The Province of British Columbia can do what it wants under powers delegated to it by the BNA Act … in this case = of milk produced and consumed by its owners, with the stroke of a pen, we can go back to the way the Milk Industry Act Revised Statutes of British Columbia operated, from its inception ~1955 to 1996.

      a good demonstration of my argument, being : La Belle Province doing what it usually does = telling Ottawa to “just get stuffed”, when the feds tried to shut down production of cheeses from raw milk

      In BC, we have a cowshare which has had a “cease & desist Order” slapped on it, for over a year, with nothing more being done by the Authorities, all the while the REAL MILK flowed and no-one got sick. Every day that situation continues, makes our argument of “bureaucratic indifference”. Once REAL MILK is legitimized here, each of the other provinces can then do what they want.

      Gordon S Watson

  • Shana Milkie

    Thanks for calling this out, David. We have to keep naming fascism when we see it and recognize that it’s not normal.

    How awful that Michael Schmidt has been sentenced to any amount of jail. He is a hero for continuing to stand up for individual food rights in the face relentless government assault.

  • Mark Mcafee Mark Mcafee

    Raw Milk Institute is at your service and stands ready to inspect and List more interested dairies across Canada. Our friends in British Columbia have been in contact with RAWMI to engage the Canadian scientific and regulatory community to educate and further explain to them just how raw milk can be produced with very low risk in Canada. In fact, low risk RAWMI Listed milk already exists in Canada with several Listed dairies. Organic Pastures Dairy stands in solidarity with Michael and his family and the cow share owners during this time of evolution.

  • Steve Wilson

    Along with all this the USDA is about to tear up Organic Quality Standards by labeling Hydroponic Farms and CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) Organic.

    ‘The basis of organic food production starts with improving the soil, Organic soils teem with microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, protozoa and microscopic roundworms called nematodes. It’s the synergistic cooperation between these microorganisms, the soil’s biome and the plants’ roots; rhizosphere, that allows the plant to absorb nutrients from the soil in which it’s grown.’ (Mercola)

    1000+ Animal Feeding Pens and Chemical Hydroponics are miles away from this. It’s about time for all organic farmers to switch to the Demeter Certified Biodynamic quality standards and for Retail Organic Stores like Sprouts and Whole Foods to promote these quality Demeter standard organic foods.

    I have written to both these retail organisations and asked them to promote food produced to this standard and I’d like others to write to them too, because as they claim to be organically minded with wholesome food as their goal, they are susceptible to consumer opinion.

  • Ken Conrad Ken Conrad

    Yes… and dung beetles.
    The toxic chemical, drug and antibiotic laden manure coming out of these CAFO’s is not conducive to a healthy and all important dung beetle population.

  • Alvin Schlangen

    You all keep expecting the deep state to give up it’s hold on pharma and banking for the good of the people:( Sad that you can’t see that it is simply their unethical business mindset that drives their direction. If you want real change, you need to keep in mind that those who know their rights tend to observe, promote and practice them instead of kicking the latest attempt at conservative governance. We’re a long way from having a real leader in the seat that gets little respect, but the potential for reducing the singe greatest obstacle to freedom – oversized GOVERNMENT – actually has a view at this time, imo

    • David Gumpert David Gumpert

      Alvin, your point about the deep state’s hold on pharma and banking is well taken. I’ll just point out, in a followup to my comment to Bob Hayles, that reduced government size doesn’t necessarily translate into better government or, more specifically, into expanded rights and opportunities for food producers. So far, what I mostly see is that any savings from reducing the size of government are being directed toward the wealthiest entities in our society.

  • Bob Hayles

    David, you seem to have given up any attempt at being a journalist and just have gone flat-out leftist. While this article doesn’t go full-on fake news, it plays around the edges with half-truths mixed with some…SOME, not many…complete truths.

    Let’s look at the article point-by-point:

    You are nine paragraphs in, spending the first eight subtly and not-so-subtly bashing Trump without any evidence before you actually make a point…a good one by the way. You are right, Sonny Perdue sucks. I had to put up with the POS as governor of my state and I know what kind of garbage he is.

    In the first sentence of the next paragraph your left-leaning politics shines through though:

    “The article indicates that the main swamp-draining steps have had to do with cutting back even further on an already very tight food stamp program…”

    FACTS indicate the food stamp program isn’t tight enough.

    Food stamp fraud, where businesses pay pennies on the dollar cash buying food stamps, has been documented over and over and costs millions upon millions of dollars.

    Depending on the state, food stamps can be “spent” at dog racing tracks, casinos, and, in one case, even at a legal brothel in Nevada…spent on food, of course (if you believe that I have some oceanfront property for sale next door to that brothel in Nevada).

    Then there is the daily abuse by food stamp recipients. My family has a black sheep side, and one member of that side is on food stamps. She gets $500 a month for her and 2 children. In my house we spend $275-300 a month at the grocery store (including non-food stamp items like toilet paper, dishwashing liquid, and washing machine detergent) for a family of the same size…myself, my wife, and my 17-year-old step-daughter.

    Despite getting $200 more per month than WE spend, she still calls regularly asking for help feeding her kids. Why the $500 a month is not enough is obvious. I’ve seen her 15-year-old son use her EBT card (EBT card my ass…call ’em what they are: Food stamps) to run up to the Dollar General for a single serve bag of potato chips and a 20-ounce soft drink. THIS is what food stamps were intended for…not to mention that allowing her son (or anyone else) to use her card is illegal?

    s long as items that can’t be described as nutritious food, ready to take home and prepare…groceries to be prepared for meals, not crap snacks and other junk, can be purchased with food stamps, and as long as a serious crackdown on illegal use of food stamps is not done, there is NO “very tight food stamp program”. That is just a liberal talking point.

    I’m going to skip around a bit regarding your article as it would take a book to address all of its problems.

    You don’t seem too fond of the elimination of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction. Your only defense of it, however, is that it is longstanding. So what? The fact that pedophilia is “longstanding” doesn’t make it good, does it?

    The SALT deduction does nothing but reward states with high taxes by shifting the federal tax burden to residents of fiscally conservative states, and it removes any incentive for voters in wasteful states to insist on fiscal responsibility from their state and local lawmakers.

    These figures aren’t exact, but let’s look at an example:

    Two people make $100,00 a year and have a $20,000 federal tax bill. One lives in New York and pays $15,000 in SALT while the other lives in Florida and pays $5,000 in SALT.

    Each receives the same services from the federal government. The military doesn’t protect one better than the other, one doesn’t get more access to federal parks, and both get to drive on the same federally funded highways.

    The New York resident only has to send the IRS $5,000 because he has a $15,000 SALT deduction while the Florida resident has to send the IRS $15,000 because his SALT deduction is only $5,000.

    Both have to pay $20,000 in taxes. The difference is only WHO they get paid to. With a SALT deduction, why should the NY resident insist his state and local officials keep spending and taxes down? If local taxes go down his federal taxes go up, so why should he care?

    Without the SALT deduction both pay the same federal taxes and receive the same services…fair. With the deduction people in low tax states have to subsidize people in high SALT states, and folks in high SALT states have NO incentive to hold state and local officials accountable.

    But you know everything I’ve written.

    David, you used to be a thought-provoking slightly liberal-leaning journalist, but your TDS…Trump Derangement Syndrome…is showing and your writing has become little more than shilling for the left.

    Go back to being a good journalist. THere are far too few of them.

    • David Gumpert David Gumpert

      Just to be clear, Bob, my post wasn’t really a journalistic report. I was doing some extrapolation and analysis based on another journalist’s detailed report (in Vanity Fair) on happenings at USDA. That report was the most extensive I’ve seen reporting on what’s been happening inside USDA. I read through it hoping to find some reference to issues that owners of small locally oriented food producers would care about. I couldn’t find anything.

      Now, I’ve not made any secret about my worries concerning Trump, going back to the months before he was elected. But I’ve really hoped his commitment to reducing regulation would translate into something that would ease burdens and restrictions on small farms. I haven’t been alone. Lots of people were speculating early in Trump’s campaign that because some of his hotels offered healthy-food options that he was really a supporter of good food. There was talk that he was a secret raw milk drinker, getting his supply delivered to his family in Florida.

      So far, including reading through the lengthy Vanity Fair report, I have yet to find a single shred of evidence that he cares at all about small food producers, or has the slightest big of interest. If you are aware of any such evidence, I’d like to know about it. I’d be glad to report it.

      I referred to the food stamp program and the tax proposals to indicate where I thought his real interests lay–in re-directing capital to large corporations and in screwing poor people. That’s my takeaway. You have a different view of what the food stamp and tax proposal mean. But perhaps we can agree that there’s been nothing as yet to suggest any interest in making regulatory life easier for small food producers.

    • Bob

      It gets a bit more complicated because the states with low SALT tend to get more back in federal dollars than those with high SALT, which means that the high tax states are subsidizing the low, not as you say.
      Also, SNAP (food stamps) is used by companies such as Walmart as corporate welfare. Pay the employees a non-living wage and let the gov’t subsidize their salary in the form of food stamps. If employees got better wages, perhaps that would reduce the need to hand out those SNAP cards. But I agree that a more stringent definition of what constitutes “food” would help….but the Big corporate food producers wouldn’t like that.

  • William March

    Why don’t we put everything in one package such as USDA,FDA ,CDC ,USA ,raw milk laws ,gmos ,illegal aliens ,police ,Monsanto ,churchgoers, meat laws ,tax laws ,President Trump and anything else we don’t like and SCREAM AT THE SKY and then we will all be fat and happy

  • Gordon S Watson

    thinking about Michael Schmidt being incarcerated for simply acting to protect his private property from intrusion by the State, it is educational to bear in mind the fact that the lead police officer in the investigation, managed to evade having to produce ALL the internal official email correspondence prior to the raid on Glencolton Farm. It doesn’t take a degree in political science, or law, to realize that those emails Un-doubtedly contain material damning to the Provincial Authorities … material which would embarrass the Prosecution to the extent that the case would be thrown out. Yet the Judge let this travesty go ahead.

    Meanwhile, in another criminal court, prosecution of 2 of the very top civil servants in the Province of Ontario, continues, charged with “mischief to data / unlawful use of a computer”. On their way out the door, they took pains to destroy records of thousands of critical emails in one of the largest political scandals in the province’s history [ to do with cancellation of gas-fired electricity generation o suit partisan purposes]

    defendant Schmidt was put through a charade of a show-trial, ‘with his hands tied behind his back’, UN-able to make full answer because the same branch of govt. – The Crown Counsel – were complicit in obstructing Justice ….If they had a grain of integriy, They’d be ashamed of demselves. But they don’t

  • Steve Wilson

    Let’s not be naive:

    Money talks, especially through the Washington Lobbies where there are ten Lobbyists for every congressman/woman and senator. Big Corporates control the lobbyists and most of the so-called research into human health. Heck, it took fifty years from the time tobacco was identified as the main cause of lung cancer till legislators acknowledged it, and they only acknowledged it when there was huge groundswell of public opinion against cigarettes.

    Most politicians go to Washington relatively poor and come out super rich, be they Republican or Democrat; Hilary Clinton started as a poor political activist, she now owns four huge mansions around the States and has assets in the hundred of millions. I don’t expect them to live monks lives and I do expect them to garnish wealth for themselves and their families, although this disappoints me. Every politician will insist they work only for the common good while doing this. I’m sorry to say this is almost natural.

    Our job is to create true awareness of the importance of good healthy natural nutrition in so many people that politicians have to take these truths into account if they want to get re elected. Hopefully we can do this in less than fifty years.

  • D. Smith D. Smith

    Don’t understand what is happening to the stuff I’ve been posting here, but it doesn’t seem to be showing up. Hmmmm.

    Anyway, this might be of interest to the people in PA, plus very soon it will be of interest to all of us in any State, it seems. Imagine that.

    The FDA found a real big stick. This is the latest e-newsletter from Edwin Shank, in case some of you haven’t seen it. Lotsa stuff on the horizon, it seems. Not good.

  • D. Smith D. Smith

    No problem, David. So much wonky stuff goes on with computers these days it’s hard to know what’s happening. Thanks for checking it out, I appreciate it.

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