For those of you who've asked me recently about the latest and greatest from DC - here is what FARFA has posted on their website currently.
Please, do keep yourselves informed, and call your local congress person - the health care issue is taking front seat, which may mean our legislation gets shoved through while no one is really looking!
FROM FARFA; (My notes in italics)
A food safety bill is moving through Congress! The House Energy & Commerce Committee has approved HR 2749, the "Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009." The bill contains many problematic provisions, including:
A food facility—defined as any establishment that manufactures, processes, packs, or holds food—would have to register and pay an annual $500 fee. Although farms are exempt, the agency has defined “farm” narrowly, and people making foods such as jam, cheese, or canned vegetables for local markets would be required to register and pay the fee. This could drive start-up and small producers out of business during difficult economic times. The fee is the same whether you are a small, local producer or a Heinz factory.
Facilities are also subject to extensive recordkeeping and paperwork requirements that could bury them in red tape without improving food safety. (Not to mention the part that allows the FDA to come on our property and have access to all records, including customer lists, whenever they want. These "facilities", are our HOMES!)
The FDA is authorized to regulate how farms grow, harvest, pack, sort, transport and hold raw produce and crops. The agency's track record shows that this is likely to lead to regulations based on the practices of huge, industrial facilities, and that will be impractical and counterproductive for small, diversified farms. (See what they are doing in CA - no animals on farms, no ponds/creeks/lakes on property, no border crops - must be mowed to dirt, must eliminate all wildlife from crop area or plow up 30ft surrounding animal tracks that are found.)
Establish a sliding scale for fees based on gross income, with an exemption for small facilities.
Limit the bill to food being shipped interstate, and explicitly exempt all farms and food processors who are selling only intrastate.
Exempt all farms and food processors who are selling directly to consumers. (This would mean us and farms like us, because we generally sell directly via CSA supporters and directly at market day.)
The industrial food safety system does need to be reformed. But a bill that harms small and local producers is not the answer!
Help protect both farmers and our food supply by calling your Representative today! Talk with the staffer who handles food safety issues. Explain how important local farms and local food sources are to you! Ask your Representative to push for an exemption for small farms and small food processors from these overly burdensome provisions.
To find out who represents you, go to http://www.congress.org/
I'll post pics and such from Barn Aid soon!
Eat Your Food - Naturally!