Every time I get annoyed at restrictive and pointless food/farm policy in the US, I remind myself that almost everywhere else is worse. A Canadian friend just sent me this February article from Toronto explaining a truly bizarre situation for small farmers in Canada raising free-range eggs:
Egg farming is governed by a supply management system in Canada, which means provincial egg marketing boards control the number of eggs produced…Any farmer is permitted to keep 99 laying hens without buying quota, which is worth thousands of dollars, and they can sell their eggs from the farm gate without grading them, a process that evaluates quality. But they are forbidden from selling them elsewhere unless they are graded, which, for the small farmer, is a tough regulation to meet because grading stations are often a long way from the farm and it is expensive to set one up. This has created a grey market for eggs. If you know the password, you can buy a verboten dozen at an Ontario health food store. Often those popular eggs at the farmers’ markets are kept out of sight – for a reason. “It’s more like Prohibition,” Mr. Henry says, “with far more people ignoring the regulations and selling eggs.”
This is like the raw milk situation in the US, but for eggs. Can any American small farmer even imagine living with a situation in which the government literally sets a production quota you cannot exceed, and forbids you from selling eggs away from the farm? Eggs!
This is why over-regulation of food and farming, especially at a small-farm, direct-market scale, is a very bad thing. Basic economics are usually more powerful than laws; people will search out and find the products they want, and others will make those products, regardless of unenforceable laws. I never knew a college student who didn’t drink or smoke pot solely because it was illegal. So the result of such laws is simply to force otherwise honest people into a black market they don’t want to be in, or in scrupulous cases like ours to simply stay out of a market they could otherwise make money at (meat and dairy products for us).
Thus you punish the most honest, reward the medium-honest/stubborn/desperate, and ruin the few unlucky folks who get caught selling eggs or milk outside the lines of law but well within the lines of basic economic demand. Stupid.