This post, as always, seeks to generate support and help for the Estrella family, owners of the Estrella Family Creamery.
Our favorite cheese makers in the United States, not to mention Washington State, not to mention Grays Harbor County, not to mention Montenaso have been written up in the local paper, the Vidette, by Leif Nesheim. The FDA’s cut-throat tactics are broadly noticed, and with more coverage like Leif’s, maybe it can end. Here are some tasty quotes from the article with my comments interspersed:
“Some of the things the FDA is doing to them, I was just appalled,” said Elma organic dairy farmer Jay Gordon, executive director of the Washington State Dairy Federation. Gordon said he recently visited the Estrellas’ farm and was impressed with the quality of their operation and the steps they’ve taken to ensure food safety. “They have done everything they can,” Gordon said, but the FDA’s precautionary standard of zero bacteria “is one nobody could live under let alone run a business.” The regulators’ actions are destroying a family and its business, Gordon said. “How many more farms are they going to do that to?” Gordon asked, noting that several FDA actions in the past few months have put the agency on his federation’s radar.
The FDA’s heavy-handed tactics and unreasonable precautionary standards really should worry ALL of us. It’s not hard to see this type of government intrusion in nearly all areas of life. But, back to dairy, the Federation sent a letter to all the State’s federal congressional delegation pleading with them to investigate the FDA’s tactics. One of which tactics is that the FDA, even in cases where cheese is not sold or shipped over state lines, has the authority to investigate a local farmer if any of the component used in food making comes from out of state. Regarding this FDA tactic, the letter says:
This expansive interpretation seems to grant FDA authority to regulate all farms, carte blanche … and underminesthe established efficacy of our own Washington State Food Safety Program, thereby creating a great deal of uncertainty and fear in the farming community.
Fear, indeed! It’s difficult not to fear when part of the United States government appears intent on taking away your livelihood. This is exactly what Dan Wood of the Washington State Farm Bureau thinks:
“The FDA, they’re going to kill this business,” Wood said. “It’s unfortunate because people want this very unique product.” The Estrellas have taken numerous steps to make sure their product is safe, but the feds don’t appear willing to acknowledge the improvements, Wood said, noting the FDA’s action here isn’t an isolated case.
Lastly, please support the Estrellas. The family needs your help.