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August 25, 2010

Food Safety: Partial Victory! The Senate grants some of your requests

NOTE: Infected eggs are in the news as we send this message. This once again demonstrates our contention that industrial farms are riskier than small farms. That’s one reason we work so hard to protect small farms from federal regulations that industrial farms can afford, but small farms cannot. Speaking of which . . .

The routine is getting familiar . . .

1. We tell you that Senate bill S.510, the so-called Food Safety bill, could be coming up for a vote.

2. You ask your Senators to oppose the bill, or to offer amendments to protect small businesses and farms.

3. Panicked by the public opposition, the Senate postpones the vote.

4. Several weeks later we all repeat steps 1 through 3.

Well, it’s happening again. We understand that S.510 will likely be put to a vote in September.

But this time, the bill will have many of the changes we demanded!

Although S.510 should still be opposed, we should also encourage Congress to retain the good changes that have been made to the bill, just in case it passes. Please send Congress a letter about this using our Preserve the Freedom to Farm campaign.

You may borrow from or copy this letter . . .

I oppose S.510 because we need FEWER regulations. A free market backed by criminal and civil penalties for fraud and negligence will hold food producers to the highest standards. That’s because in a free market, consumers will avoid producers with bad reputations.

I am, however, pleased with the changes made in the Manager’s Amendment to S.510. With these changes . . . http://help.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/WHI10337.pdf

* Only foods already regulated by the FDA will be subject to S.510 — the firewall between the FDA and USDA-regulated foods will be maintained
* Farms, restaurants, and other businesses that were not already designated food “facilities,” as defined by the Bio-terrorism Act of 2002, will not need to register with the FDA. http://thehill.com/images/stories/blogs/smallfarms.pdf
* Farms engaged in low or no risk activities will be exempted from new regulatory requirements
* The compliance burden for small producers has been minimized
* The FDA is prohibited from requiring farms and other food facilities to hire consultants to write food safety plans
* Food that is direct marketed from farmers to consumers and stores will be exempt from the tracking and record keeping requirements, as will food that has labeling that preserves the identity of the farm that produced the food
* The FDA cannot require farms to keep records beyond the point where the product leaves the farm http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/senate-food-safety-bill/

I also understand that the Tester amendment will be added to the Manager’s Amendment. This will . . .

* Exempt food facilities under an annual gross sales threshold of $500,000 from “preventative control plan requirements”
* Exempt farmers who primarily direct market products to consumers, stores or restaurants from produce standards regulations  http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/senate-food-safety-bill/

While I hope you oppose S.510, I INSIST that you oppose any final bill that doesn’t have these important changes. The future of small farms and small businesses could depend on it.

END LETTER

You can send your letter through DownsizeDC.org’s Educate the Powerful System.

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Thanks for being part of the Downsize DC Army!

James Wilson
Assistant Communications Director
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

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