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Food Bill Vote Next Week
Please call your Senators immediately
(see ACTION at end of email for contact info)

 
NICFA's national lobby day, Farm Food Voices DC, on March 10th was a huge success. Folks from around the country as far away as Montana met with their Senators and Representatives' staff about the problems with S 510 and what to do.  In addition, 17 independent restaurants and caterers, including several nationally renowned chefs, and more than 50 independent farms and producers who contributed their lovingly raised and artisanal products, cooperated to prepare a spectacular local foods feast reception for legislators, staff, and grassroots lobbyists.  A direct result of our action has been coverage about the problems with this bill by the Wall Street Journal, Fox Business TV, and MarketWatch among other media.  Now let's build on what we accomplished March 10th.
 
Senator Jon Tester of Montana, who attended our reception, has written two amendments for S 510 to address small farm and facility issues.  We thank Senator Tester for his efforts to improve the bill. However, S 510 would still create serious unintended consequences for farmers and consumers, and this bill should be opposed.
 

S 510, the "Food Safety Modernization Act" could be voted on next week.
This bill will make food less safe, not more. Please let your Senators know that.
 
S-510 will have the unintended destructive consequence of eliminating small farms and consumer access to local food. The main threats to food safety - by the government's own admission - are centralized production, centralized processing and long distance transportation. S-510 will increase these risks by further consolidating agriculture into fewer, larger industrial farms through enormous regulatory burdens that small farms cannot endure. Small farms and farmers markets are an important economic engine, environmental safeguard and national security asset. There is not a history of foodborne illness from farmers' markets or small farms.
 

1)    S-510 grants sweeping powers to the FDA (and the USDA).
 
a)   The FDA already has jurisdiction over live food animals, but S510 expands the FDA's powers and authority.  In addition to adding new regulations, agents could go on to farms, where less than one half of one percent of foodborne illnesses originate, without needing credible evidence that a problem exists, only "reason to believe" in order to quarantine or shut down a farm. S-510 strikes the words "credible evidence" and inserts "reason to believe." "Reason to believe" is inserted into the code 14 times with this bill.  This is unscientific and lets them use subjective criteria for taking legal action.
 
 b)   TITLE II Sec. 208: strikes ''presents a threat of serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals''  and inserts ''is adulterated or misbranded'' meaning that if an agent "believed" that raw milk, for instance, to be an adulterated food, the agent could shut down a farm that provides raw milk to consumers.  The farmer would have no legal recourse from such action.
 

2)   S510 is an enabling statute for international regulations.
Reducing national authority and applying international standards to farms and small businesses will hurt the only growing sector of agriculture this nation has, the direct trade and local food movements. International guidelines and standards are not designed to increase food safety, but to harmonize and standardize allfood production and processes. Small farms are the only prospering sector of our economy, growing at about 13,000 per year according to the USDA's survey. This bill will end that.

 
a)    The U.S. has already implemented several disastrous international standards, including "Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points" (HACCP) and "The Leafy Green Marketing Order."
 
i)   HACCP has not increased food safety, but has resulted in the closure of slaughterhouses that could not afford it and that serviced small farmers in direct trade, thus increasing farmers' costs for travel to distant abattoirs and decreasing their ability to stay in business.  S510 will allow plans like HACCP - a 50-page book of rules - to be required on farms.
 
ii)   The International Plant Protection Convention's (IPPC's) "Pest Free" standard, known as "The Leafy Green Marketing Order" was written by industrial distributors (WalMart, Disney and McDonalds) and has resulted in no increase in food safety but has caused gross financial burdens on small farms. E.g., in the Growers' Compliance Costs for the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) and Other Food Safety Programs survey conducted in 2008 and 2009 by the University of California, one of their many findings stated, "Growers reported their seasonal food safety costs more than doubled after the implementation of the LGMA, increasing from a mean of $24.04 per acre in 2006 to $54.63 per acre in 2007."
  • S510 allows the FDA to force producers to farm as the FDA decides, effectively industrializing all farms. FDA could require them to use "Good Agricultural Practices" or GAP, international standards that are not good, and which can be changed over time to always support industrial agriculture.  GMO seeds or "GMO organic" could be required, according to the authority granted by this bill.
     
  • According to a recent HHS report, FDA is currently inspecting less than 25% of food facilities they are authorized to inspect.  This bill does not require 100% inspections, but does allow FDA to control farming. 
  • One current example of the FDA's abuse of power was in July 2008, when the FDA issued a nationwide warning regarding a Salmonella risk on varieties of tomatoes. "The disease wasn't found on Georgia tomatoes, but the general public's perception was that all tomatoes were affected," said Archie Flanders, an economist with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The scare cost Georgia farmers $13.9 million. Georgia grows about 3,000 acres of tomatoes, worth between $60 million and $80 million annually. According to an article from the University of Georgia, "During the tomato scare of 2008, the U.S. tomato industry lost an estimated $300 million in revenue. Florida growers bore the brunt of the recall, incurring up to $100 million in losses." It later was determined that the outbreak of Salmonella did not come from tomatoes.
ACTION: Please call your Senators now.  Ask for the aide handling the Food Safety bill. Tell the aide about the Tester amendments. At the same time, ask your Senator to oppose this bill until it is fixed to do what it is supposed to do.  Ask them not to give the FDA power over farms. The FDA is already not inspecting even 1/4 of the food facilities they are authorized to inspect. This is a flawed bill.
 
Yours for food freedom,
Deborah Stockton, Executive Director
National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association (NICFA)

Our purpose is to promote and preserve unregulated direct farmer-to-consumer trade that fosters availability of locally grown or home-produced food products..
NICFA opposes any government funded or managed National Animal Identification System.
 





 

 

 

 

 

 
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