Ridiculous Laws in TN

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I am cross posting this with the permission of Belinda...Julie in OK Her email is bilherbs@aol.com

On April 2nd, 2002 we were visited by Hugh Wilson and Nell Stephens from the Tennessee Department of Agriculture because of our web site. On our site, in the description of what we do on our farm, we mentioned that we make our own cheese and butter. We found out that, in the State of Tennessee, this is illegal. Seems strange doesn't it? Now, you might think that the making of the cheese and butter is illegal but in actuality we are allowed to make and consume our own homemade goods. What we are not allowed to do is tell you that we do it or teach you how to make our own. This has nothing to do with selling products off the farm. One is not allowed to have people watching while you make cheese. Think this is ridiculous? Read on!

The State of Tennessee considers milk, to be a hazardous material. Did you know you are not allowed to give away milk from your farm? Did you know that you cannot legally give your neighbors' have milk for their orphaned animals? Think this is insane? We do. There is a part of me that will just always want to brave arrest to save an orphaned baby of any sort. How am I to look another farmer in the eye and tell them to let their animal die? Have our state legislators lost their minds? Do they even know what laws have been passed? Are these laws really on the books or do we just have some very eager officials out there make the small farmer suffer in any way they can?

I am ready to mount a campaign for food sanity in Tennessee and the rest of the United States. You think dairy is the only problem? Think again. Been to WalMart lately? The so-called fresh meat has preservatives in it, the kind of preservatives you find in bacon, salami and other cured or cooked meat products. This not good enough for you? How about the idea that's coming along now about possibly requiring "cold pasteurization" or irradiation for all fresh meats.

What's this all mean to the meat industry? Probably just the same thing it did to the dairy. The small farmers and processors will be out of business. What does irradiation equipment cost? I have no idea but I doubt the little custom slaughter facility you bring your homegrown meat to will be able to afford it. Do they require it yet? Nope, but then again, pasteurization wasn't required till recently.

You scared? I'm scared.

You mad? I'm mad.

Want to help, drop me an email. I'm posting this to as many places as I can think of. If it is off topic don't get the group upset by discussing it, I'm sure somebody knows how to get a chat group going.

Belinda LaBelle Acres www.labelleacres.com

-- Belinda (bilherbs@aol.com), April 03, 2002


Absolutely UNBELIEVABLE! Actually, after giving a moment's reflection, it isn't. There was a bill suggested some time back that would place an estimated "income tax" on the probable produce of one's garden. Got shot down real quick, but it just goes to show you how absolutely absurd our govmt is getting when it comes to "the little guy/gal!"

Not sure what it's going to come to, but I don't think it's going to be pretty! Only thing that keeps me sane is that I don't dwell on it much - prolly like most others!

-- Phil in KS (mac0328@planetkc.com), April 03, 2002.

Stupid laws in every state Belinda, sorry they picked on you. I reported rodent and mite infestation at the Egg Farm Dairy a now closed cheese/butter plant where I was employed (the cheeses that had been nibbled were cut into sample pieces to sell, that was after we brushed off the droppings) NYS couldn't have cared less. The inspectors came and went with blinders on! Rancid butter was 'freshened' with ice cold water and 2nd turn in the churn-it was joke!

-- Kathy (catfish201@hotmail.com), April 03, 2002.

This is just one reason so many homesteaders kind of do their thing "underground" and don't want a lot of publicity about it.

These laws are ridiculous. Seems I read a reader-written article in the print COUNTRYSIDE a couple of years ago about the same kind of problem. It makes now sense.

We have people here (in north Alabama) that have been calling the Health department nearly ever week because several Hispanic families butcher their own meat. I've seen their operation and they appear to be clean as a pin! Plus, it's for their own family and friends so it shouldn't be ANYBODY else's business. My gosh....just about everybody in our rural areas used to butcher their own meat!

That's why I've always said it's important for us homesteaders to be AWARE of goofy governmental regulations. So many times people have critized others on these forums for talking about government and things that are going on....this is just one more illustration of why WE MUST stay alert and informed!

-- Suzy in Bama (slgt@yahoo.com), April 03, 2002.

I'm really, really suprised they were proactive (noticed the web site themselves and decided to visit). Normally they are reactive (acting when someone notifies them of a problem. Sort of sounds to me like someone reported you as being an unlicensed commercial concern.

A lot seems to depend on individual inspectors also. I'm setting up a small store to sell salvaged grocers. Technically it needs to have a fully-functional bathroom in the same building. However, inspector for this area said as long as it is just me (i.e., no hired help), she would count one of the ones in the my trailer about 75' away for that purpose. Also, she didn't need to physically inspect it, nor require it to have a self-closing door. However, she said another inspector in her office would because that is what the reg. says.

I'm not selling perishable groceries, just canned, bottled or packaged (and then pre-packaged at that - no bulk containers). Each bump up in stock requires more santitation requirements. For example, anything above what I am doing now would require at least a sink with hot and cold running water. Rather makes sense.

She has been most cooperative. She came at my request to look at the building and told me several things I would need to correct. She came again this morning (also at my request) to check if I had satisfied her concerns. Once I'm up and selling she will come for a formal inspection to issue me a state license to sell food products retails.

In the future her inspections will look primary for evidence of rodent activity (mouse turds), excessive number of dead flies and badly dented cans. She will also check temperatures during winter and summer to ensure the stock isn't exposed to extremes which may affect its quality, etc.

In the future ask to see a copy of the regulations they are enforcing. Don't settle for just a 'the regs. says...'. Ask about work arounds. For example, would they allow visitors/students if they wore a disposable mask and shoe covers?

Someone noted official concern about backyard butchering for family and relatives. Concern here may be with sanitation during processing (e.g., a sanitary work area and not allowing blood to reach the ground and draw flies) and disposal of offal. Likely it needs to go to a sanitary landfill.

Remember, most regulations were put into place to solve a problem somewhere and get applied across the board.

-- Ken S. in WC TN (scharabo@aol.com), April 03, 2002.

I have to go along with the last post about Gov't being reactive. TN is in a budget crisis and I don't see any agency taking this action unless they were reacting to something. As far as the laws go I'm sure when it was written on paper it sounded good and was a "reaction" to another situation. It was probably written to stop the spread of a disease at the time.

-- Emil in TN (eprisco@usit.net), April 03, 2002.

I'd go with what Ken and Eric said-problably they were addressing a problem else where- OR some lobbist who for whatever reason has a thing about small dairies-it could be anything from a big commercial dairy to yuppies wanting more development somewhere, were able to get a law passed. I am surprised they sought you out-uasually they don't unless theirs been a complaint. I'm glad you are posting it- these kinds of things worry me.

-- Kelly (homearts2002@yahoo.com), April 03, 2002.

I'm so sorry, I meant to type Emil, not Eric in my earlier post-My apologies, Emil!

-- Kelly (homearts2002@yahoo.com), April 03, 2002.

Geez, it's a good thing no one was around for the first and only time I butchered my pig...

-- Dee (gdgtu@goes.com), April 03, 2002.

Belinda, hang on for the ride! I'm in IN now, rehabbing an old house in TN, so I keep an eye on what's going on. From what I hear, the governor of that fair state is angry that the taxpayers would not vote for a state income tax, so he shut down the parks this summer. Now, the state seems to be spending money like water, undoubtably to run out of money, and FORCE the income tax. Big Brother at his finest.

-- Judy in IN (whileaway3@cs.com), April 03, 2002.

The more I hear about TN, the less I like. Apparently, a few years ago, TN made it illegal for semi trucks to park on exit on and off ramps. Now, I can at least partially understand the law, but do feel like: if a trucker is that tired and can't park anywhere else, the on ramp is fine if he keeps it with the running lights on and not out in the lane or anything. But thats not the point. The point is, the very night that that law was passed, the state troopers must have had evey officer they could round up out... the didn't give warnings, they didnt give verbals. They gave expensive tickets out to every trucker pulled over on an on/off ramp that night. Talk about friendly!

-- Kevin in NC (Vantravlrs@aol.com), April 04, 2002.

I think the reason for the laws is corporate lobbying and their $$$$$$$$$ the big meat and dairy outfits don't want the competition the more small operators they can drive out of business the more for themselves.The answer is for homesteaders to organize and lobby the state gov'ts that pass these laws.Whether you agree with the NRA or not they are a model of what can be accomplished when a group of individuals pool their money toward a common goal.

-- Gary (burnett_gary@msn.com), April 04, 2002.

milk is one of the best food for contamination and bacteria, thats probobly why it was started.... and its awfull that you now have to follow this, since once visited...... it leads to repeat visits....

but the not showing folks ... that sounds like big dairy business laws...

-- Beth Van Stiphout (willosnake@hotmail.com), April 04, 2002.

Sounds like a big time violation of free speech rights, to me. Maybe you could sue under that umbrella.

-- GT (nospam@nospam.com), April 04, 2002.

Yea that's the answer SUE!!! Notice the person that told you to sue has no name or email address! There are many laws on the books that don't make sense in some applications. I'm sure if you make a true stink out of this your road will need repaving from all the inspectors that will travel down it.

-- Emil in TN (eprisco@usit.net), April 04, 2002.

I don't know what you find wrong with my answer--it applies to the original post saying they couldn't tell or teach someone to make their own. That is a freedom of speech issue, plain and simple. People have the right to panhandle and telemarket (both of which I think is wrong) under "freedom of speech", so why can't these people post instructional material? What if they wrote a book on the subject--would that be illegal too in TN?

The other issues (giving milk to orphaned animals for instance), I don't feel I know enough to comment on. But freedom of speech should be important to everyone!

-- GT (nospam@nospam.com), April 04, 2002.

I agree GT, Not that I would go so far as to sue. But use that as as argument. An editorial to the paper etc. That's like the Middle Ages not allowing people to share information! You can't teach them how to make food for themselves but you can probably teach them how to blow something up! Sheesh. I am glad that is not the law here or I would be fined for teaching some of our 4H projects!!!!

Perhaps the rule had something to do with the people watching spreading contaninats? The one we visited made the cheese in a sterile room (they also sold cheese, licensed) behind a huge picture window. You could watch it all, then there was a video playing describing all that you saw that looped repeatedly for the continual visiters.

But not even teach it? To find your website objectionable?

This is the 3rd weird law post this week! So aparently the government is going to tell us what vegetation we can plant, how many and what kind of animals we can own/raise, and now what foods we can share. And we won't be allowed to share any of our knowledge so that we will soon all be stumbling around in the dark like idiots. yep, sounds like the Dark Ages to me!

-- Novina in ND (homespun@stellarnet.com), April 05, 2002.

OMG. This is really creepy. I wish they would enforce the laws against spitting on the sidewalks instead.

-- Susan in Northern Lower Penn Michigan (cobwoman@yahoo.com), April 07, 2002.

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