We’ve all been told to prepare for emergencies. Even the government suggests stocking up on enough food, water, and other supplies to last a minimum of 72 hours.
That’s why you might be surprised to learn that your food stockpile isn’t exactly yours to keep. While it’s not illegal to stockpile food, there are times when the government can limit how much you can buy (such as rationing) or seize food or supplies needed in times of crisis.
In other words, we tend to stock up on emergency food supplies in case SHTF. But, if SHTF, the government could take your stockpile from you.
Think this sounds too far-fetched? Keep reading.
Orders Regarding Hoarding, Stockpiling, and Seizing Food
There have been multiple orders passed by sitting Presidents that prevent hoarding. The problem is that there is no clear explanation of the difference between stockpiling for emergencies and hoarding.
For instance, you may already have a stockpile of emergency food, but your neighbor doesn’t. Should your neighbor hear that a certain food is running low and goes out and buys it all, this is considered hoarding. This is different from stockpiling a variety of foods for emergency purposes – especially if your neighbor then tries to sell the goods he’s hoarded at higher prices.
However, will the government see it that way if you have certain foods or supplies in your stockpile that are needed by others?
50 U.S. Code § 4512 - Hoarding of designated scarce materials states, “In order to prevent hoarding, no person shall accumulate (1) in excess of the reasonable demands of business, personal, or home consumption, or (2) for the purpose of resale at prices in excess of prevailing market prices, materials which have been designated by the President as scarce materials or materials the supply of which would be threatened by such accumulation. The President shall order published in the Federal Register, and in such other manner as he may deem appropriate, every designation of materials the accumulation of which is unlawful and any withdrawal of such designation.”
President Kennedy signed Executive Order 10998 in 1962. One part of the order gives the government authority to take over all agricultural production and distribution – including plans and procedures for the proper utilization of agriculture items stockpiled for survival purposes.”
President Reagan signed Executive Order 12656 in 1988, which includes “preparing plans and procedures to share between and among the responsible agencies resources such as […] food […] supplies […] water, and workforce needed to carry out assigned responsibilities and other essential functions,” as well as, “develop plans to set priorities and allocate resources among civilian and military claimants.”
President Clinton signed Updated Executive Order 10998 in 1994, which included a law that allows the federal government to seize hoarded food supplies from both public and private sources.
In 1994, President Clinton issued Executive Order 12919, which includes the confiscation of water resources in addition to all food that is “capable of being ingested by either human beings or animals.”
In 2012, President Obama signed Executive Order 13603, which allows the federal government to seize and re-distribute water, food, and other resources when the U.S. is in a state of emergency.
Both President Trump and President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act during the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump issued an executive order to prevent the hoarding of essential supplies.
Each of these Executive Orders is only designed to go into effect during a state of emergency. But again, the point of stockpiling food is for emergencies…
Examples throughout American History
While stockpiling isn’t illegal, there have been times throughout America’s history when the federal or local government has made it difficult to hold on to food supplies.
Here are a few examples.
- Confederate Army: During the Civil War, the Confederate government used Impressment, which was a policy that allowed the government to seize food, fuel, slaves, and other supplies to support their armies.
- WWI: During WWI, the government tried to encourage people to curb food consumption, but Americans still faced food shortages. One such item was sugar. As a result, the US Food Administration allotted each family two pounds of sugar or roughly 4 cups. Sugar hoarding became a major issue, even resulting in armed guards protecting the sugar supply chain.
- WWII: The previous methods to curb food consumption during WWI were not enough during WWII, which is why the Emergency Price Control Act introduced price limits and food rationing. Americans were issued food coupons to purchase sugar, coffee, meat, cheese, canned milk, and more. In addition, Americans were encouraged to report hoarders.
- COVID: In addition to Executive Orders preventing citizens from hoarding essential medical supplies, local stores attempted to control hoarding by setting purchase limits. It was common for people to see purchase limits on paper products, cleaning products, and meat during the pandemic.
Why and How This May Come to Pass
Again, stockpiling isn’t illegal, but you may need to take extra protections to safeguard your stockpile in the future. Stockpiling could become “illegal” if the country were in a state of emergency and the item you had is considered essential.
In addition, if the country is in a state of emergency, the President could pass an Executive Order that would allow the government to seize food and water from citizens.
Unfortunately, many Americans are not prepared for a major disaster. Therefore, they will be dependent on FEMA to provide food and other resources.
FEMA will use their stockpile, at first. Then, they will reach out to factories and wholesalers.
If more is needed, then they will turn to citizens’ stockpiles.
The Importance of Keeping Your Stockpile a Secret
All this to say – keep your emergency food safe. Don’t advertise your emergency supplies to anyone. Store it someplace out of sight.
Purchase your emergency food from a company that understands the importance of privacy like My Patriot Supply.
You don’t want your neighbors to see a delivery man place emergency food boxes on your doorstep revealing your food stash.
We ship all food in unmarked boxes to avoid this sort of situation.
Should things go south, people will come to you for help – even if they don’t know about your stockpile. So, it is wise to stash a little extra for those family members who will inevitably show up on your doorstep.
Keep your emergency food safe, friends.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply