FOOD SAFETY LEGISLATION: WHAT YOU CAN DO
We’ve sent out several alerts about the food safety bills in Congress, and are continuing to monitor the situation with S. 510, the Senate’s version of the bill. As written, this bill would impose extremely burdensome and unnecessary requirements on the thousands of small farmers and food processors who are producing safe, nutrient-dense foods for their local communities. Although progress of the bill has met with delays, this is no time for complacency. We still need a broad consumer effort to educate our media and elected officials about the dnagers of this bill. It’s critical that the bill be amended or stopped!
The bill’s progress has been slowed by controversial proposed amendments. The first controversy is over Senator Tester’s (D-MT) proposed amendment that would exempt smal-lscale processors and direct-marketing farmers from the most onerous requirements. Senator Hagan (D-NC) is co-sponsoring the amendments, which are critical to the continued vitality of the local foods movement. Over one hundred fifty organizations have signed a letter of support for these amendments, posted at http://farmandranchfreedom.org/sff/Amend-S510-May-25.pdf
Another major source of controversy is Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) proposal to ban Bisphenol A (BPA) from baby bottles and other food and drink containers. Studies have shown that BPA can migrate from can linings into food, disrupting the endocrine system with many potential health consequences. Several industrial food organizations have threatened to withdraw their support for S.510 if the BPA amendment is included. There’s also word that Senator Dorgan (D-ND) may introduce an amendment to allow drug re-importation from foreign countries, creating more controversy.
All of these developments have slowed the bill down and pose barriers to its passage. The Senate may vote on the bill this month, but it’s not certain. We must use this time to build more support for the Tester-Hagan amendments!
Here are three actions you can take to protect local foods and farms:
LETTER TO EDITOR
Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper. Keep it short (one hundred fifty words or less). See the talking points below:
TALKING POINTS ON FOOD SAFETY LEGISLATION
A. One size does not fit all. All of the well-publicized incidents of contamination in recent years occurred in industrialized food supply chains that span national and even international boundaries. Imposing an industrial-style regulatory framework on local farmers and food producers is unnecessary, unfair, and counterproductive.
B. Local and state governments have well-established programs to protect public health. In most areas of the country they are already working with small producers to develop practical guidelines that are appropriately scaled to the level of risk in a direct-to-consumer transaction. Local regulation is more than enough for local foods.
C. Explain briefly how the proposed law would impact your farm, your farmers market or your cooperative. Make it personal to you and your community!
D. Conclude by calling for your Senators to support the Tester-Hagan amendments. It helps to mentioned their names (ex: “I urge Senators Cornyn and Hutchison to co-sponsor these important amendments.”), to catch their staff’s attention.
EDITORIAL IN LOCAL PAPER
Get your local newspaper to publish an editorial in support of the Tester-Hagan amendments. To do this, approach the editorial page editor or editorial board and ask for a meeting to discuss concerns about how the Federal Food Safety Bill would impact small local food businesses and farmers market vendors. If an in-person meeting won’t work, then set up a phone call and email them materials ahead of time. Come prepared with materials, including the sign on letter and other talking points. Additional resources are posted at http://farmandranchfreedom.org/food_safety_bills_09
CONTACT YOUR SENATOR
Contact your U.S. Senators (even if you have called before), and ask to speak with the staff person who handles food safety. Ask for them to co-sponsor the Tester-Hagan amendment to S. 510. Please let us know what the response is by emailing Judith@FarmAndRanchFreedom.org. Thank you for all your hard work on this!
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly journal of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Summer 2010.