16 June 2010

Senate Bill 510 – A Time for Action

Senate Bill 510 is working its way through the legislative process. Everyone supports safe, healthy and affordable food – Senate Bill 510 works against all 3 of those goals and could change the way family farmers and Farmers Markets operate.  Support family farmers, Farmers Markets and small agricultural businesses by opposing this bill or supporting the amendment being offered by Montana Senator and 3rd generation farmer, Jon Tester.  Judith McGeary from the  Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance wrote us this email earlier today asking for help.  Please read the following call to action and contact your Senators about the Tester Amendment. If you Facebook or Twitter, please share this link – http://bit.ly/Senate510Action

ACTION ALERT ON SENATE FOOD SAFETY BILL

Food safety is heating up again and we need your help!  Although the Senate’s food safety bill was delayed, there is now a concerted effort to bring it to the floor for a vote.  Unfortunately, as it is currently written, S. 510 will actually make our food less safe.  S. 510 will strengthen the forces that have led to the consolidation of our food supply in the hands of a few industrial food producers, while harming small producers who give consumers the choice to buy fresh, healthy, local foods.

Please contact your Senators NOW to urge them to amend or oppose the bill!  Contact information and talking points are below.

Congress needs to solve the real problems – the centralized food distribution system and imported foods – and not regulate our local food sources out of business.  S. 510 is a “one-size-fits-all” approach that will unnecessarily burden both farmers and small-scale food processors, ultimately depriving consumers of the choice to buy from producers they know and trust.

TAKE ACTION:

Call both of your Senators.  You can find their contact information at www.Senate.gov, or call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or toll-free at 877-210-5351.  Ask to speak with the staffer who handles food safety issues.

Tell the staffer that you want the Senator to amend or oppose S. 510.   If you get their voice mail instead of the staff, leave the following message:

“Hi, my name is _____ and I live in ______.  I’m very concerned that S.510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, imposes unfair and burdensome regulations on local food sources, which are very important to me.  I urge the Senator to support the Tester-Hagan Amendments to exclude small facilities and direct marketing farms from the most burdensome provisions of the bill.  Please call me back at ____________.”

TALKING POINTS

Over 150 organizations have signed a letter of support for the Tester-Hagan amendments to exempt small-scale and local producers from the more burdensome provisions of the bill.  You can borrow some talking points from the letter (pdf here)
or use the ones below:

1. The major foodborne illness outbreaks and recalls have all been caused by the large, industrial food system.  Small, local food producers have not contributed to the highly publicized outbreaks. Yet S. 510 subjects the small, local food system to the same, broad federal regulatory oversight that would apply to the industrial food system.

2. Increased regulations and record-keeping obligations could destroy small businesses that bring food to local communities. In particular, the reliance on hazard analysis and risk-based preventative controls, a concept similar to “HACCP”, will harm small food producers.  HACCP has already proven to be an overwhelming burden for a significant number of small, regional meat processors across the country.  Applying a HACCP-type system to small, local foods processors could drive them out of business, reducing consumers’ options to buy fresh, local foods.

3. FDA does not belong on the farm. S. 510 calls for FDA regulation of how farms grow and harvest produce.  Given the agency’s track record, it is likely that the regulations will discriminate against small, organic, and diversified farms.  Although language calling for “flexibility” may be included, but there are no enforceable limits or protections for small diversified and organic farms from inappropriate and burdensome federal rules.

4. Food safety and security both come from a diversified, vibrant local food system.  Local foods give consumers the choice to buy from producers they know, creating a transparent, accountable food system without federal government oversight.  State and local laws, which are often size-specific rather than one-size-fits-all, are more appropriate for local food producers.

– Judith McGeary

1 Response

  1. These talking points were manifested before the latest version of S. 510. They are outdated and I would not advise using them..

    To correct/update McGreary’s talking points:

    1. Unfortunately, small producers have been associated with outbreaks.

    A farmers market in Iowa: http://www.idph.state.ia.us/IdphNews/Reader.aspx?id=DD3ABF3B-F50E-4EB3-9D74-D88A15B66035

    Direct-marketed, small-scale raw goat milk sickens 24. E. Coli O157:H7 and Campylobacter: http://www.dailycamera.com/boulder-county-news/ci_15469283

    A toddler is hospitalized in Minnesota. Direct-marketing: http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/health/94980484.html

    2. The Secretary is instructed to offer flexibility and EXEMPTIONS to certain facilities. These would be low-risk, small operations, etc. HACCP isn’t a nightmare to implement, especially with flexibility.

    3. S. 510 specifically states that the FDA should not issue any regulations that come in conflict with the National Organic Producers guidelines. McGreary likes to say some organic farmers aren’t certified organic. This isn’t about certification, it’s about practices. Organic farming is indeed protected.

    On diversified farms? The flexibility that must be afforded to small facilities is required to “be appropriate to the scale and diversity of the production and harvesting of such commodities”.

    This is completely overlooking the fact that McGreary consistently misuses the term farm. S. 510 applies to facilities that manufacture, package, etc. Farms and restaurants are exempt.

    4. This talking point is misleading. S. 510 does not threaten local food producers who operate with food safety in mind. By no means is this legislation “one-size-fits-all”. The repetition of that line is tiresome and shows a deep misunderstanding of S. 510.

    The Tester amendment offers a blanket exemption that would include large businesses and high-risk operations. Exemptions should not be made based on adjusted-gross income alone.

    The bill: http://help.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/WHI10337.pdf

    Senate staff summary of its effects on small businesses: http://thehill.com/images/stories/blogs/smallfarms.pdf

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