Small Farmer Warns “HR2749 Will Put Me Out of Business”

Pugs Leap Does

Pugs Leap Does

Artisan Cheese from Pugs Leap Farm May Disappear if Food Safety Bill Passes

by Pascal Destandau of Pugs Leap Farm
Eric Smith and I own and operate a small diversified farm in Sonoma County, at Pugs Leap Farm we milk twenty seven goats by hand and make cheeses we sell at local farmers markets in Sonoma, Marin, Alameda and San Francisco. We have a few chickens and sell the eggs at the markets. In the next few years we hope to take to the markets the fruits and nuts from the orchards we planted. We also grow onions, garlics, chards, salad greens, tomatoes, corn, squash, strawberry and culinary herbs. We intend to add a few beehives next year.

HR2749 (The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009) which is currently making its way rapidly through the House of Representative will put us out of business.

HR2749 calls for:

a yearly registration with the FDA with a $500 fee

full HACCP plan for every type of produce sold or processed, for us that mean one plan for the dairy, one one for cheese making, one for transporting and retailing at the market, one for the fruits and vegetables, and another one for the nuts

FDA approved methods by which crops are raised and harvested. The most likely outcome will be along the lines of the leafy green ordinance, scorched earth and exclusion of any wildlife.

I have twenty two years experience in research and development and in technical operations, at a managerial level, in the pharmaceutical and personal care products industry. I therefore know very well the resources

Dry Creek Valley

Dry Creek Valley

needed to create and maintain a full HACCP plan. Creating one plan would take me about 100 hours and maintaining it would take 2 hours per day of production. Based on quotes I obtained in 2006 for laboratory testing, I estimate that I would need to budget $15,000/year just for the microbiological testing of the cheeses. The International Dairy Food Association (IDFA) has published some guidelines for HACCP which were used by the National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS) when it developed a voluntary dairy HACCP program in parallel with the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO). To follow those guidelines I will have to start testing every batch of milk for drug residues, I will also have to tests for pesticide residues and mycotoxins. I am still in the process of researching what amount of testing will be needed for compliance and it is still unclear if I will be allowed to do my own testing or if I’ll need to send samples to a certified laboratory. This will be decided when the regulations are written.
Stopping feeding cattle a high grain diet would be much more efficient than an HACCP plan to eliminate E. Coli O157:H7 from our meat supply. The same for silage and Listeria. The practice of feeding antibiotics for faster weight gain has been linked to the presence of antibiotic resistant strains of salmonella in chicken, turkey, beef and pork. Recently MRSA has been found in pork meat.

The enforcement of HACCP plan for all food producers will do nothing to address those problems. Furthermore HACCP plans are very industry friendly and rely on self regulation and self regulation does not work. For example in 2006 from January to June, Cadbury knowingly shipped products tainted with salmonella; Cadbury’s defense is that the levels in the chocolate were too low to cause illness.

On July seven the White House appointed Michael R. Taylor Advisor to FDA Commissioner. The press release mention that it is his third appointment at the FDA and that Taylor will work to:

Assess current food program challenges and opportunities

Identify capacity needs and regulatory priorities

Develop plans for allocating fiscal year 2010 resources

Develop the FDA’s budget request for fiscal year 2011

Plan implementation of new food safety legislation.
The press release failed to mention Mr. Taylor connections with Monsanto.

Mr. Taylor began at the FDA in 1976 as a litigating attorney, he left to join King & Spalding where Monsanto was his personal client regarding food labeling and regulatory issues.. He returned to the FDA as Deputy Commissioner for Policy from 1991 to 1994, overseeing FDA’s policy development and rulemaking, including the implementation of the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act and issuance of new seafood safety rules. This was a new position created for him and he instantly became the FDA official with the greatest influence on GM food regulation, overseeing the development of government policy. He was part of the team that issued the very industry-friendly policy on food biotechnology and that approved the use of Monsanto’s genetically engineered growth hormone in dairy cows. He introduced the the concept of substantial equivalence as an appropriate method for determining safety. This is the basis for the lack of safety testing and the non labeling of GMO containing food. The same concept was used to prevent dairy products to be labeled as rBGH free.

Cutting the Goat Cheese

Cutting the Goat Cheese

Mr. Taylor left the FDA in 1994 for the USDA. In 1996 he went back to King & Spalding and in 1998 he was appointed vice president of Public Policy by Monsanto.

I am very concerned that Mr. Taylor will use his position to issue very tech heavy, industry friendly regulations that will place an unbearable burden on small producers and family farms.
Food safety is compromised by industrial farming practices not by sustainable farming. The cost of cheap food has been food safety. My personal check list for food safety is: no GMO, no trans fat, no high fructose corn syrup, no food colorants, no artificial flavors, no rBGH, no meat, eggs or dairy from CAFO’s. The short version is do not eat anything with a bar code.

Size based regulations are possible. In the new FDA egg safety regulations producers with less than 3,000 laying hen are exempt, producers with more than 3,000 but less than 50,000 have 36 months to comply, producers with more than 50,000 have 12 months to comply.

We do need farmers and consumers to start writing to your House Representative and request that HR 2749 include similar exemptions and provisions.

This post is part of Fight Back Friday’s on Food Renegade blog, see more ideas for food activism here.

This post is also part of Food Roots sustainability blog Carnival on Nourishing Days blog, trace your food roots here!

This post is also part of Real Food Wednesday blog carnival on, check out more foodie stuff here!


  1. Wow, Kimberly! Thanks for sharing this. I’m definitely tweeting and stumbling this.

    (AKA FoodRenegade)
    .-= FoodRenegade´s last blog ..Homemade Taco Seasoning =-.

  2. This is an excellent article and tells it like it is– the reality that thousands of small-scale producers live every day that is an unknown world to law-makers in Washington DC who think the same rules applied across the board somehow amount to “fairness”. Not any more. Small-scale, organic, sustainable producers who market primarily locally are speaking up loudly and being heard. But we can’t stop now. Tell your Representatives NOT to support this bill unless it incorporates the amendment being sponsored by Representatives Farr, Kaptur and other that contains language to protect small farms, organic farmers and small-scale food processors.

  3. Jim Bynum says:

    It seems Mr. Taylor was at FDA when EPA, USDA and FDA decided it would be a good idea to spread bacterial contaminated sewage effluents (sludge and water) on food crops. This was sold to farmers as a solution to high fertilizer prices. Now all farmers and consumers are victims. As long as this continues, food safety laws and regulations are a joke on small farmers and consumers. Help for Sewage Victims has started a petition to stop this nonsense at

  4. Kimberly Hartke says:

    I was intrigued by Pascal’s mention of a scorched earth policy. I just found this awesome blog post that explains this, and why it is so bad for the environment and food safety!

  5. Pascal Destandau of Pugs Leap Farm article is enlightening. I will help spread the word.
    I invite one and all to join Pascal and Eric for the world premiere of
    LEAP OF FAITH, the documentary about their small diversified farm, their goats and making goat cheese.

    The film premieres inside the Grand Room of the Cave at Deerfield Ranch Winery, 10200 Sonoma Hwy (Hwy 12) Kenwood Ca 95452
    Saturday September 19th.
    There will be a reception and cheese tasting at 6PM . The film screens at

    Note: Admission to the reception, tasting and film has not yet been set. visit 23rd Wine Country Film Festival’s web site for more details in early September.

    • Kimberly Hartke says:

      Thanks so much for letting our readers know! Feel free to share this article far and wide, it is important that we become more sensitive to the struggles of these wonderful farmers who work so hard.

  6. One of the problems with getting people motivated to fight bad bills is that they are often written with such a broad pen that ordinary citizens have trouble understanding how it will affect them. I am glad that Destandau cited specific way HR2749 would hurt him. For those people who have never called or written their congressman before, it is easy and quick. I walk you through it here: Please take just a few minutes and make that phone call today because the bill will be going up to vote anytime now.

  7. The FDA are and always have been an organization ALL AMERICAN CITIZENS should endeavor to keep hamstrung with repeated large and costly class action law suits. Until they go under.

    They stealth test deadly human drugs on FOOD animals and COMPANION animals, and use VETS to do so, knowingly and without their knowledge.

    They do NOTHING to really protect the public, and are just another food tax on people.

    I am still awaiting a reply from the FDA as one of their nasty loopholes allows deadly experimental human recombinant DNA drug to be tested on a sick companion animal and it died of monstrous complications.

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  1. News Feed says:

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