Food News

Sen. Jim Norman Protects the Rights of Farms at the Expense of Florida Consumers

Something is wrong with Florida Sen. Jim Norman. I don't mean that something is wrong with his physical or mental health (well, maybe the latter), but rather that something is wrong with him in general. He is defective, broken, of no use to us Floridians.

Senator Norman has introduced to the Florida Legislature bill SB 1246, which would make it a crime to document animal abuse and food safety issues at agricultural businesses. The bill is specifically aimed at thwarting animal rights groups from documenting animal abuse on such properties.

Reports indicate that Abnormal Norman drafted the bill at the behest of his good buddy, Wilton Simpson of Simpson Farms in Pasco County, who coincidentally has a stake in the matter. Are you effin' kidding me?

Mind you, this is all after the Great Egg Scare a few months ago, when the rancid conditions at Cal-Maine Foods, the nation's largest producer of eggs (which sell at Publix supermarkets), were exposed. At the Cal-Maine operation, more than a million hens were stuffed into cages so small that they had no room to move. Eggs were covered in blood and feces, and hens had broken legs. Dead hens were left to rot with live, egg-producing hens. These types of circumstances should trouble not only animal rights activists but also anyone with a conscience -- not to mention people who don't like feces and blood with their breakfast.

If Abnormal Norman's bill passes, these types of conditions will no longer be exposed, meaning we won't find out about them. For those of you who don't remember, there was a huge salmonella outbreak last year and a half-billion eggs had to be recalled. Isn't it odd that Senator Norman is trying to punish those who expose these conditions instead of the agribusinesses that create them? Wouldn't it be smarter to penalize the farms that produce these conditions? Sun-Sentinel columnist Nicole Brochu says it best: "This is as outrageous as sending a witness to jail for reporting a crime."

But Senator Norman has a history of being, well, stupid. Like when he was against SB 202, a bill introduced by Sen. Mike Fasano that would allow local governments to check the air quality in ice rinks. This was after students from the East Lake High School hockey team became ill due to unsafe levels of carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide emitted from ice-resurfacing machines used in their home rink. In a 2009 investigative story, ESPN discovered that almost 200 hundred people had become sick from such exposure. Senator Norman's reason for trying to kill the bill: that it would affect large corporate entities such as the St. Pete Times Forum and that he was for less government, not more government.

Senator Norman's integrity has been a matter of concern. A Leon County circuit judge struck Norman from a November 2010 ballot because he failed to provide full disclosure as required by the Florida Constitution of a half-million-dollar loan his wife received from an area businessman. Norman has a history of putting big business before Florida residents, and he is doing so again by trying to pass a bill that will continue to allow big farms to produce food under conditions that are cruel to animals and unsafe for consumers.

Were it not for whistleblowers, we would be unaware of the clandestine nastiness that goes on at some of these farms. We have a right to know how our food is being produced. If Norman is so concerned about less government, maybe he should retire from public office and go into the private sector. I'm sure he'll have a lot of job offers waiting.

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Ily Goyanes
Contact: Ily Goyanes