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Tag: food safety

Today, the US Senate voted in favor of the bipartisan Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510), which passed the Senate by a 73 to 25 vote. The House passed a version of the bill with support from both sides of the political aisle back in July 2009, but was held up in the Senate. The good news is that S.510 was passed with provisions (from the Tester Amendment) to exempt small farms and food producers from the new legislation if they sell directly to consumers and bring in less than $500,000 in annual sales.

There has been a ton of support and opposition for this bill. Some report that this is the end of gardening, saving seeds and it will only be a matter of time before small farms are included under the larger FDA controls of the bill. Opposition comes from the folks at Natural News (they nicknamed it the “Food Tyranny Act”), the Weston A. Price Foundation, and the John Birch Society. Others support the move saying the FDA currently has very little power to actually do anything to prevent or address major food outbreaks. Interestingly, the movement has gained support from very unlikely allies including: Center for Science in the Public Interest, author Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma), and author Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation).

The bill now moves back to congress so the former bill and the new bill can be reconciled. All indicators are showing that the newly revised bill will be passed by the House quickly  in an attempt to try to get it completed by the end of the year (before new Congress members take their seats).  Stay tuned…

The Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510) has gathered support from both sides of the political aisle. If the Senate passes the measure today or tomorrow, it will go back to the House for a final vote.  All indicators are showing that the bill will likely pass and the major question right now is whether they will pass it with the Tester Amendment or not.  The Tester Amendment essentially exempts small farmers from the new controls if they earn less than $500,000 in annual sales and if they sell directly to consumers, restaurants, or grocery stores (as opposed to 3rd party food brokers). This likely includes the majority of the farmers and food producers you find at your local farmer’s market.

Many argue that FDA should not be given additional control over farms. Others say new regulation is critical to help fight outbreaks such as salmonella and E.coli. Regardless of what side of the fence you are on, it is imperative that the food bill be passed WITH the Tester Amendment to exempt small farms.

CALL TO ACTION: Please call your state senator and let them know that small farms are not the problem with America’s food safety and do not need additional, burdensome regulation. Click here for simple, step-by-step instructions on how to call your senator. It will only take 2 minutes!

Be Food Smart did a story on  The Food Safety Modernization Act (S510) in August. It appears that S510 will be voted on in the Senate as early as Wednesday, Nov. 17. This bill would impose extremely burdensome and unnecessary requirements on the thousands of small farmers and food processors who are producing safe foods for their local communities. If passed, small farms would be subject to similar paperwork, reporting and inspection requirements to that of farms hundreds of times bigger. These requirements could pose such a large hardship on family farms that many could go out of business.  Remember, this could affect virtually everything you buy at your local farmer’s market. Small family farms are not the problem with our country’s food safety!

A key amendment sponsored by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) would exempt small farmers who direct market more than 50% of their products. These famers must have gross sales (direct and non-direct combined) of less than $500,000, and sell to consumers, stores, or restaurants that are in-state or within 400 miles. This amendment is especially important for off-farm retail locations such as farmers markets and CSAs.

Please call your Senators today (most offices have voice mail where you can leave a message) and ask them to support the Tester Amendment on the Food Safety bill.

If you are a farmer this is important to protect your livelihood. If you are a consumer, where will you buy your safe and nutritious food if your local farmers are forced out of business?

How to Take Action:

  1. Go to Congress.org and type in your zip code in the box in the upper right hand corner.
  2. Click on your Senator’s name, and then on the contact tab for their phone number. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard and ask to be directly connected to your Senator’s office: 202-224-3121.
  3. Leave a voice mail message.
  4. Be sure to include your name and phone number.

This is the voice mail message you can leave as recommended by the Cornucopia Institute:

“I am a constituent of Senator___________. I ask that he/she support the Tester Amendment to the food safety bill. The Tester Amendment will exempt the safest, small, owner-operator farms and food facilities and farmers who direct market their products to consumers, stores or restaurants. Food safety legislation should not create inappropriate and costly regulatory barriers to family farms and the growing healthy food movement in the drive to crack down on corporate bad actors. Please support the Tester Amendment and market opportunities for small and mid-sized family farms, and small food processing facilities.”

farmers market

Dane County Farmers Market

More food safety in the US sounds good, right? Well, depends on who you are. The US Senate is considering a Food Safety Bill S510 that would change the system of food safety in America. One of the major issues with this bill is that all the provisions, restrictions and requirements would apply to small farmers and small food producers (think farmer’s market fruit, veggies, jam, pie, nuts, eggs, etc.). If put into law, this WILL affect your access to some of these foods.

Laws to manage food-borne illnesses such as E.coli and salmonella sound appealing until you think about what causes  them. The majority of offenders in this area are mega farms and huge food producers. Rather than create new regulation to stop many mega farming practices (such as widespread use of antibiotics, gigantic feedlots, slaughterhouse contamination, nitrogen heavy fertilizers, dangerous pesticides, un-natural feed, use of genetically modified seeds) that may contribute to food safety issues, the solution put forth is to apply an already broken system to all farmers and food producers.

For a small family farm, having similar regulations as large food manufacturers will no doubt present an undue hardship. Many farms will have to deal with 
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