The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a sweeping overhaul of the food safety laws, very soon – possibly as early as April 13. As it is currently written, the bill, S. 510, would actually make our food less safe. S. 510 would 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.
ACTION TO TAKE
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. The Committee version of the bill does NOT address my concerns, and I urge the Senator to support the Tester Amendment to exclude small facilities and direct marketing farms from the most burdensome provisions of the bill. Please call me back at ____________.”
Weston A Price Foundation joined with 87 other organizations to send a letter to the Senators urging that they amend S.510 to exempt small-scale and local producers from the more burdensome provisions of the bill. You can borrow some talking points from the letter (posted at http://farmandranchfreedom.org/content/files/Amend-S510-April2010.pdf) 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. 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.
5. FDA regulation of local food processors is counterproductive and unnecessary. FDA has not used its existing authority well. Instead of focusing its resources on the problems posed by imported foods and large processing facilities, FDA has chosen to target small processors. While approving unlabeled GMOs to enter our food supply, it has outlawed raw milk and interfered with the free choice of informed adults who want access to this healthy food. Simply giving FDA increased authority and power will not improve the food supply unless Congress requires the agency to focus on Agribusiness and not small, local producers.
6. S. 510 favors foreign farms and producers over domestic. The bill creates incentives for retailers to import more food from other countries, because it burdens family farms and small business and because it will be practically impossible to hold foreign food facilities to the same standards and inspections. The bill will create a considerable competitive disadvantage for ALL U.S. agriculture and food production (see analysis at http://ftcldf.org/news/news-20Oct2009-2.html).