I really don’t know how to say this any better than Judith has, so I am just going to copy this post from a truly excellent blog I read on local food issues: La Vida Locavore
From melamine tainted products imported from China to salmonella-laced peanut butter here in the U.S., the food scares just keep coming. People are demanding that Congress do something.
But in the rush to fix the broken mainstream system, Congress is about to break what IS working — local foods. Local foods from small farms and small processors provide an alternative for consumers to the mainstream system. These local food sources are already regulated under local and state laws, and requiring them to comply with complex, burdensome FDA regulations will simply drive many out of business.
The Senate HELP Committee is meeting this Wednesday, November 18, to mark up S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. Please call your Senators and ask that they not regulate local foods right out of existence! More information, including talking points and phone numbers, after the fold.
A coalition of organizations sent the Senate a letter urging that they exempt local food sources from the bill. You can read the letter, which outlines the specific exemptions requested, at http://farmandranchfreedom.org…
But having organizations advocate for local foods is not enough — we need individual constituents to speak up! Please take a few minutes to call your Senators and support local foods.
1. Contact both of your U.S. Senators and ask them to push for amendments to SB 510 to:
(a) CLEARLY exempt intrastate foods,
(b) also exempt foods sold in local foodsheds.
More detailed talking points are below. To find out who your Senators are, go to http://www.congress.org or call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. You’ll have the greatest impact if you ask to speak with the staffer who handles food safety issues.
2. Also contact the Chair and Ranking Member of the HELP Committee:
Chairman Harkin, (p): 202-224-0767, (f): 202-224-5128
Senator Enzi, Ranking Member, (p): 202-224-6770
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 processors that get 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 sufficient for local food sources.
4. Relying on HACCP will not make food safer and 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 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. 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 by calling 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.
For more information, go to: