The Tale of Two Massies

by Bernadette Barber

Two men with the same name, both cattlemen and both very outspoken on farm issues, couldn’t be more different,   Dr. Thomas “tractor-bucket” Massie, VA  and Congressman Thomas “Friend of the Farmer” Massie, KY.

Richmond, VA.

On January 20th, 2014 An obscure man in the back of the room stood up and identified himself as Thomas Massie to the members of the agricultural subcommittee.  He said he was a cattleman and veterinarian from Washington, VA , the 18th district.  He said he had  grave  concerns about the risks that  the Virginia Food Freedom Act (Del. Rob Bell, R-Charlottesville)  would thrust upon an unsuspecting  and unprepared society that has such weakened  immune systems.

He admitted his own immune system,  by nature of his being reared on a farm and “eating a peck of dirt,” was far better than the average Virginian’s.  Continuing,  he said that since our society as a whole has been “drinking chlorinated water”  and living in a very protected climate controlled world, he just doesn’t think they have “the ability to stand those things”…pathogens.

With quiet steady implicative language, he instilled fear that the bill would allow for dangerous raw milk sales bringing pathogens from the cow to the high chair.  He even went so far as to say that if this law were to go in place “it would allow me…to slaughter an animal as I choose- this morning before breakfast- and stand by the side of the road, hang it on a loader bucket and ask if you’d like a piece”     The state credentialed veterinarian and industry high priest  is precisely the fear monger he said he wasn’t.  When one cannot get more graphic than a suggestive visual so insulting to real farmers who have integrity and independence,  it just may be the one thing people remember one by, “Tractor Bucket.”

Washington, DC

On  March 27th a bright promising  American introduced two bills to congress.  Thomas Massie identified himself as a grass-fed cattle producer.  He is a congressman from Garrison Kentucky, the 4th congressional district.  “I am familiar with some of the difficulties small farmers face when marketing fresh food directly to consumers.  Our bills would make it easier for families to buy wholesome milk directly from farmers by reversing the criminalization of dairy farmers who offer raw milk,” said Massie.  “The federal government should not punish farmers for providing customers the foods they want, and states should be free to set their own laws regulating food safety.”

The “Interstate Milk Freedom Act of 2014” (HR 4308) prevents  interference by the federal government with trade of unpasteurized, natural milk or milk products between states where distribution or sale of such products is already legal.

The “Milk Freedom Act of 2014” (HR 4307) provides relief to local farmers, small producers, and others who have been harassed, fined, and in some cases even prosecuted for the “crime” of distributing unpasteurized milk.  This bill would prohibit the federal government from interfering with the interstate traffic of raw milk products.

Massie stated, “Today, many people are paying more attention to the food they eat, what it contains, and how it is processed.  Raw milk, which has been with us for thousands of years, is making a comeback among these discerning consumers. Personal choices as basic as ‘what we feed our families’ should not be limited by the federal government.”

Congressman Thomas “Friend of the Farmer” Massie’s take on Food Freedom: “I support the Food Freedom Act and oppose the federal Food Safety and Modernization Act.  The Food Freedom Act declares that the food grown and produced in state, when sold in state are beyond the authority of Congress and its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce among states. Individuals and farmers should continue to have access to non-genetically modified seed and the right to consume non-pasteurized products at their discretion.  We don’t need the federal food police on our farms and in our kitchens.”

There couldn’t be two more polar opposites with the same name.  Too bad the congressman is not from Virginia, we sure need him here.

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