Congress is tyring to pass S.510, the Food Safety Modernization Act. I'm sure they have the best of intentions and are working to protect citizens from illness, but the Act would hurt smaller farmers by making them jump through lots of hoops and deal with oodles of red tape. Please write your representatives in Congress to voice your concerns. The blog Agriculture Society has a great article on the bill. Here are some of her talking points:
1. The major food borne illness outbreaks and recalls have all been caused by the large, industrial food system. Small, local food producers have not contributed to the highly publicized outbreaks. Yet S. 510 subjects the small, local food system to the same, broad federal regulatory oversight that would apply to the industrial food system.
2. Increased regulations and record-keeping obligations could destroy small businesses that bring food to local communities. In particular, the reliance on hazard analysis and risk-based preventative controls, a concept similar to HACCP, will harm small food producers. HACCP has already proven to be an overwhelming burden for a significant number of small, regional meat processors across the country. Applying a HACCP-type system to small, local foods processors could drive them out of business, reducing consumers options to buy fresh, local foods.
3. FDA does not belong 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. Although language calling for flexibility may be included, but there are no enforceable limits or protections for small diversified and organic farms from inappropriate and burdensome federal rules.
4. Food safety and security both come from a diversified, vibrant local food system. Local foods give consumers the choice to buy from producers they know, creating a transparent, accountable food system without federal government oversight. State and local laws, which are often size-specific rather than one-size-fits-all, are more appropriate for local food producers.
Let's work together to protect our food from safe,small and local sources. Find your representatives on www.congress.org by entering your zip code in the upper right hand corner.