Unless it is amended, the Food Safety Modernization Act will regulate our local food sources
out of business. As written now, the legislation is a big gift to the industrial food producers, and
a drastic blow against small farms.
So please take steps, ASAP, to tell your senators either to amend the bill or vote against it.
Here, below Gianni Ortiz’s prefatory note, is all you need to know to take immediate action.
From Gianni Ortiz:
This bill will be a disaster for small farms unless Tester’s amendment is included, which does not cover everything–HACCP, etc. –but does cover scale appropriateness for many small farm products and sales. If you have never taken action before, please show up for this piece of legislation. It is on the floor and will come to a vote probably as soon as next week, as soon as the ‘financial reform’ bill is voted on.
Please pass this on to anyone who cares about real food, small farms or the environment. This has to be a very big noise and we can’t do it without you. If you have never contacted your senator,
it only takes a moment-and such calls and faxes are actually counted and do make a difference, please so do both. I have been remiss in these communications of late – my apologies – also for any cross postings – very, very, very busy.
The irony is that I am working on an exchange program between France and our Hudson Valley farmers/artesianal producers and it will not happen if the French farmers and artesianal food producers will need to meet our USDA/FDA standards in order to bring their products into this country. They simply refuse because they know that the flavor and specialness of their ‘place’ will be wiped out with required sterilization/pasteurization/irradiation (?)/industrial standard by the US in order to get their acclaimed, safe, regional foods into the country in order to share their success stories with us.
Coaching and talking points below for those who are new or not-totally-comfortable with the process. It is very easy to use the fax or email option. If you are part of an organization please consider signing on to the letter and passing along – and thanks very much!
The timing of the food safety bill is still unclear, but it seems pretty certain that it will NOT be
heard this week.
We faxed the updated letter (with 103 signatories) to the Senators on Thursday. Given the additional time, we will continue collecting signatures, so please continue to reach out to other groups and networks that you know.
The bill is expected to come to the floor early next week, so we are in the final push.
1) Please send out an action alert to your members. We need calls coming in to the Senators all over the country.
2) Make sure your Senators’ staff have seen the letter – please email it to them and follow up with a call to make sure they notice that your organization is listed.
3) Attached is a Q&A sheet put together by WORC and FARFA, in response to the questions we’ve heard most often from staffers. Feel free to share it with your Senators’ staff.
Sample action alert:
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a sweeping overhaul of the food safety laws very soon! As it is currently written, the bill, 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.
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 support Senator Tester’s amendments to 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 Amendments to exclude small facilities and direct marketing farms from the most burdensome provisions of the bill. Please call me back at ____________.”
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. The House version of the bill directs FDA to consider the impact of its rulemaking on small-scale and diversified farms, 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.
Support Fresh, Safe Local Food in the Food Safety Bill
The undersigned organizations represent consumers, small farmers and ranchers, and local food producers who have serious concerns over the pending food safety legislation, S.510, the Food Safety Modernization Act. We urge you to support amendments so as to improve food safety without unnecessarily burdening and handicapping small-scale, local food producers.
All of the well-publicized incidents of contamination in recent years – whether in spinach, peppers, or peanuts – occurred in industrialized food supply chains that span national and even international boundaries. The food safety problems in this system can and should be addressed without harming the local food systems that provide an alternative for consumers.
The growing trend toward healthy, fresh, locally sourced vegetables, fruit, dairy, and value-added products *improves *food safety by providing the opportunity for consumers to know their farmers and processors, to choose products on the basis of that relationship, and to readily trace any problems should they occur.
Farmers and processors who sell directly to consumers and end users have a direct relationship with their customers that ensures quality, safety, transparency and accountability. In addition, small-scale food producers are already regulated by local and state authorities, and the potential risk their products pose is inherently limited by their size. For these farmers and processors, new federal requirements are unnecessary and would simply harm both the food producers and their consumers.
Although the Committee-passed bill includes some provisions for flexibility for small and diversified producers, S. 510 still would establish new hazardous analysis and risk-based preventive controls for all facilities and authorize FDA to dictate growing and harvesting practices for produce. These requirements will impose significant expenses and burdens on individuals and small businesses.
Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls
We therefore urge you to support Senator Tester’s amendment to exempt small, local processing facilities from the bill’s hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls requirements and traceability requirements.
1) With respect to the hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls, add the following new section to Section 103:
(l) EXEMPTION FOR CERTAIN FACILITIES – This section shall not apply to a facility for a year if the average annual adjusted gross income of such facility for the previous three-year period was less than $500,000.
2) With respect to traceability, add the following new section to Section 204:
(f) EXEMPTION FOR CERTAIN FACILITIES – The traceback and recordkeeping requirements under this section shall not apply to a facility for a year if the adjusted gross income of such facility for the previous year was less than $500,000.
FDA Produce Standards
We also request that you consider an amendment to exempt direct-marketing farms from the FDA produce standards. With respect to the produce standards, add the following new section to Section 105:
(g) EXEMPTION FOR DIRECT MARKET FARMS – This section shall not apply to farms whose annual value of sales of food products directly to consumers, hotels, restaurants, or institutions exceeds the annual value of sales of food products to all other buyers.
Food safety is a priority for us all. We share the concerns that have led to this bill and appreciate Congress’s commitment to addressing these problems. Thank you for your consideration, and for your support of a safer, more sustainable food system and consumer access to healthy, local foods.
For more information, contact Sara Kendall at 202-547-7040 or email@example.com, or Judith McGeary at 512-243-9404 or Judith@FarmaAndRanchFreedom.org.