April 6th, 2010
Next week, as early as Tuesday, April 13, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a sweeping overhaul of federal food safety law – S. 510. The House food safety bill passed last year (HR 2749) included several measures that threaten small-scale organic producers, including a registration fee of $500 and blanket application of complicated monitoring and traceability standards — regardless of one’s farm size.
There’s no doubt that industrial agriculture needs better oversight. But, family-scale local and organic farms are probably the safest in the nation –they are part of the solution, not part of the problem — and need to be protected!
Now is your chance, as a supporter of sustainable family farming, to help fix these problems! Senator John Tester (D-MT), a certified organic farmer himself, is proposing an amendment to S. 510 that would exempt small-scale farmers and food processors from the most burdensome regulations.
We need your help TODAY, please call your U.S. Senators in support of these proposals.
The vast majority of recent food safety scandals in the U.S. — E. coli on fresh spinach, melamine in dairy products, Salmonella in peanut butter — were all linked to industrial agribusiness practices, and these large-scale operations clearly warrant more federal food safety oversight and strict enforcement action. What is NOT needed is a “one-size-fits-all” approach that poses unfair costs and onerous reporting on local and organic farmers.
Safer, healthier food options provided by local, organic, and sustainable farmers should not be punished for their responsible work with expensive and complicated new rules. These rules may make industrialized food production safer, but offer no real food safety gains to consumers of local and organic foods. Small-scale operations are already subject to adequate regulation by local and state agencies. Smaller farm size inherently poses less risk (they are almost always owner-operated), and direct marketing also offers consumers better quality food with more transparency and accountability — and easy traceability.
Taking Action is Easy:
Call your Senators today, and tell them that you support Senator Tester’s amendment to S. 510.
To reach your state’s Senators,
1. Search his/her phone number online: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
2. Or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
Sample Talking Points:
Specific talking points you can share with your Senators from Tester’s proposed amendment to S. 510 include:
(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.
(f) EXEMPTION FOR CERTAIN FACILITIES – The traceback and record keeping 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.
(g) EXCEPTION 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.
Thanks for your support of organic, local and sustainable farmers!