Playing chicken with farmers’ livelihoods

The Salt Lake Tribune recently ran a story about how federal meat processing regulations recently stopped a local natural-chicken farming operation from processing the chickens of other small chicken farming operations, leaving no way for these latter farms to get their chickens processed and sold.

No one on these farms had done anything that caused a public health scare. No one had gotten sick from the chickens being processed. Regulators who were double-checking the federal rules on meat processing found that this natural-chicken farmer was not permitted to process the chickens from other farms, so they shut down the processing of chickens from other chicken farms “to protect the public.”

Consider that. What is the public being protected from? Certainly not an actual public health problem, since there was no actual health problem being caused by the chicken farming and processing. Instead we are being “protected” from the possibility of a public health problem that might, in theory, be caused at some point in the future by a chicken processing operation that is processing chickens from farms it does not control.

So we are preventing innocent people from pursuing legal, legitimate ways of supporting themselves and their families for no other reason than the possibility that their way of doing business might happen, in the future, to cause a public health scare.

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