Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sunland Peanut Butter Plant Closure Angers New Mexico Town

Farmers in a revered peanut-growing region along the New Mexico-Texas border should be celebrating one of the best harvests in recent memory. Instead, millions of pounds of their prized sweet Valencia peanuts sit in barns at a peanut butter plant shuttered for two months amid a salmonella outbreak that sickened 41 people in 20 states. Farmers are worried about getting paid for their peanuts, nearly a third the plant's 150 workers have been laid off, and residents wonder what toll an increasingly contentious showdown between the nation's largest organic peanut butter plant and federal regulators could ultimately have on the region's economy. The tension boiled over when the Food and Drug Administration on Monday said it was suspending Sunland Inc.'s registration to operate because of repeated safety violations, meaning the plant will remain indefinitely shut down as the company appeals the decision. The company had planned to reopen some its operations this week after voluntarily recalling hundreds of products and closing its processing and peanut butter plants in late September and early October. Many in this flat, dusty and solidly Republican farm town of about 20,000 denounce the FDA's tactics as unfair and unnecessarily heavy-handed – and become defensive about the shutdown of the largest private employer in town. "We had the best crop in years, and then these (expletives) came in and started this," said resident and local telecomm worker Boyd Evans. For the first time ever, the FDA is using authority granted under a 2011 food safety law signed by President Barack Obama that allows the agency to shut food operations without a court hearing...more


Anonymous said...

Would the New Mexico Department of health or Department of Agriculuture had any jurisdiction over these issues of does the FDA authority preempt state action. As our founding fathers noted, people's allegiance would naturally be to the states and would only migrate to the Federal government when state governments failed to protect liberty. The constitution reserved police powers (the power to act to protect property, health, and public safety) to the states. In an ever increasingly global marketplace, seems like outbreaks like these are becoming more common.

Frank DuBois said...

Unfortunately, under current Sup.Ct. decisions, since the products enter into interstate commerce the feds have jurisdiction.

Anonymous said...

yes, I had not considered that but should have recalled the Commerce Clause provision. thank you for pointing that out.