OPINION – That plump, ripe tomato that you have cowered over for months in your garden may soon be tracked, taxed, and/or confiscated by the federal government.
Can growing your own local produce for your family suddenly put you on the federal government’s map as a commercial food producer? Yes, it can. Legislation has been cropping up for decades to regulate personal farming and Utah’s Garden Challenge has many people questioning a few things.
The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food has launched Utah’s Garden Challenge, which has the ability to track just how much food we grow within the state of Utah. Gardening enthusiasts may “register” the details of their individual growing capability.
According to Cassandra Anderson’s July 6, 2012, article Utah Garden Challenge Actually Government Registration in Disguise, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is trying to entice about 10,000 or more people into signing up and giving up the details of their gardening endeavors.
Why are all the details necessary? Anderson also points out that if you produce $1,000 or more of agricultural products, you have the ability to influence economic development and decision-making.
This is to say, according to Anderson’s inferences on the program, if I make salsa, bottle it and sell it to neighbors, the government sees me as impacting economic development.
Roscoe Filburn was a farmer in Ohio that grew 23 acres of wheat and used that wheat to feed his family and to feed the livestock on his farm. In 1940, the Secretary of Agriculture established his grain growing capacity at 11.9 acres to supplement his farm usage but no more. The excess number of acres that were grown seemed to threaten the federal government’s notion that if he sold the wheat commercially, he would be violating commerce laws and could possibly affect the inflated wheat prices at that time. He did not want to sell it commercially, but the government did not seem to care; he violated his grain growing constraints.
The Supreme Court case (Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942)), resulted in a win for the government and the message was loud and clear: If you grow something on your property and do not even have the intention of ever selling it, it is “still” subject to applicable Commerce Clause laws.
According to www.lawnix.com, which provided the case summary of the Wickard v. Filburn case, the commerce power was not confined in its exercise to the regulation of commerce among the states. Congress can regulate trivial local, intrastate activities that have an aggregate affect on interstate commerce via the commerce power, even if the effect is indirect.
Whenever you see the word “safety” associated with new legislation, prepare to get out your magnifying glass and scrutinize the fine print. It seems as though the words “safety” and “security” disguise liberty-stripping regulations and laws routinely in this country.
In sweet defiance of these constricting laws, the northern Utah city of Highland voted in a measure called the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance of 2011. Political blogger Connor Boyack characterized the ordinance and similar laws as the “Food Freedom Movement.” The Highland City Council has fought for their residents’ rights to grow their own food and protect their own property, thereby protecting their residents from federal regulation.
Washington County needs to follow suit. We need to protect our citizens’ right to grow food.
The bottom line is, that the federal government has no constitutional authority to regulate what we ourselves may produce and consume. Alarm bells ring when I am asked to voluntarily give detailed information to the government knowing they can use it against me. Many people grow their own food to save on the inflated cost of food, so will this mean more taxation in the years to come on personal consumption of what we grow?
In January 2011, President Obama signed the Federal Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act, passed by Congress, to improve the security and safety of our nation’s food.
The “fine print” in the Act includes such
… each person (excluding farms and restaurants) who manufactures, processes, packs, distributes, receives, holds, or imports such article…
…have access to and copy all records relating to such article and to any other article of food that the Secretary reasonably believes is likely to be affected in a similar manner…
I do not feel any “safer” after reading this.
No, I do not have a green thumb. Sadly, I am capable of killing even an artificial plant, but I do want the ability to attempt to grow my own food if I choose to; without the government weighing in on it..
If you want to garden, not only can you grow your own fruits and vegetables, you can join a community garden area as well. Staheli Farms and Centennial Park, in Washington County, both offer community farm plots for your gardening pleasure.
Kate Dalley is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are hers and not representative of St. George News.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2012, all rights reserved.