Senate Food Safety Bill Moving Forward. Call NOW!
The Senate’s food safety bill is in committee and is scheduled for mark-up today, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 18. As currently written, the bill would impose sweeping regulations on all farms and food processors – everyone from your local CSA to the small bakers, jam makers, and cheesemakers at the local farmers market.
Small local farms and food processors are fundamentally different from huge, industrial food suppliers that ship food all over the country. Congress can and should address the problems with the industrial food supply without harming the local food systems that provide an alternative for concerned consumers!
Please call your Senators by noon on Wednesday, November 18! More details below.
Take Action Today – Call Senate Committee Members
See the list below for Senators on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. Please call or fax their office, ask to speak with the aide in charge of food safety issues, and share your concerns that small-scale and local foods not be crushed by the food safety bill.
Ask the Senators to support amendments to SB 510 to exempt farms selling directly to consumers and on-farm and local processors from ALL the provisions of the bill.
More detailed talking points are below
List of Senate HELP Committee Members
Senator Phone Fax
Tom Harkin (IA) 202-224-3254 No fax
Chris Dodd (CT) 202-224-2823 202-224-1083
Barbara Mikulski (MD) 202-224-4654 202-224-8858
Jeff Bingaman (NM) 202-224-5521 No fax
Patty Murray (WA) 202-224-2621 202-224-0238
Jack Reed (RI) 202-224-4642 202-224-4680
Bernie Sanders (VT) 202-224-5141 202-228-0776
Sherrod Brown (OH) 202-224-2315 202-228-6321
Bob Casey (PA) 202-224-6324 202-228-0604
Kay Hagan (NC) 202-224-6342 202-228-2563
Jeff Merkley (OR) 202-224-3753 202-228-3997
Al Franken (MN) 202-224-5641 No fax
Michael Bennet (CO) 202-224-5852 202-228-5036
Mike Enzi (WY) 202-224-3424 202-228-0359
Judd Gregg (NH) 202-224-3324 No fax
Lamar Alexander (TN) 202-224-4944 202-228-3398
Richard Burr (NC) 202-224-3154 202-228-2981
Johnny Isakson (GA) 202-224-3643 202-228-0724
Orrin Hatch (UT) 202-224-5251 202-224-6331
Pat Roberts (KS) 202-224-4774 202-224-3514
Tom Coburn (OK) 202-224-5754 202-224-6008
Lisa Murkowski (AK) 202-224-6665 202-224-5301
Also call your Senators, whether or not they are on the Committee, and ask them to approach the Committee members on your behalf to urge changes to the bill. To find contact information for your Senators, go to www.congress.org or call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.
1. Although FDA stated that the bill only applies to food in interstate commerce, the language of the bill does not contain any such limitation. On its face, the bill applies to any farm or food producer, regardless of the size or scope of distribution. If the intent truly is to limit the bill to food that is crossing state lines, then it must be amended. And even then, the bill would still negatively impact small farmers and food processors who live near state lines and who cross state lines to reach local farmers markets and coops.
2. The major foodborne illness outbreaks and recalls have all been within the large, industrial food system. Small, local food producers have not contributed to the highly publicized outbreaks. Yet both the House and Senate bills subject the small, local food system to the same, broad federal regulatory oversight that would apply to the industrial food system. Increased regulations, record-keeping obligations, and the penalties and fees could destroy small businesses that bring food to local communities.
3. FDA regulation of local food processors is unnecessary and burdensome. Federal regulations may be needed for industrial processing that source raw ingredients from multiple locations (sometimes imported from other countries) and ship their products across the country, but federal regulation is overkill for small, local processors. Existing state and local public health laws are enough for local food sources.
4. Relying on HACCP will harm small processors. S. 510 applies a complex and burdensome Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system to even the smallest local food processors. Although the concept of preventative controls is a good one, the federal agencies’ implementation of HACCP, with its requirements to develop and maintain extensive records, has already proven to be an overwhelming burden for a significant number of small, regional meat processors across the country. In the meat industry, HACCP has not eliminated the spread of E-coli and other pathogens and has resulted in fewer independent inspections of the large slaughter plants where these pathogens originate. At the same time, small, regional processors have been subject to sanctions due to paperwork violations that posed no health threat. While HACCP plans are suited for larger factories, applying a HACCP system to small, local foods processors could drive them out of business, reducing consumers’ options to buy fresh, local foods.
5. S. 510 puts FDA 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.
6. S 510 favors foreign farms and producers over domestic. Both S 510 and H.R. 2749 create incentives for retailers to import more food from other countries, both because the bills burden family farms and small business and because it will be practically impossible to hold foreign food facilities to the same standards and inspections. The bills 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).