FEAR — FIRE — FOES — AWAKE! S 510 may destroy local agriculture.

Senate bill 510 continues to be a threat to local agriculture in the United States.  A version has passed the US House of Representatives, and it is now before the US Senate.  Fortunately, Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma has placed a hold on the legislation for now, but thatcould go away at any moment.  NOW is the time to contact your US Senators and ask them to oppose this legislation.

It would also be helpful, if you are a member of any farm organizations, for you to contact their legislative people and ask them to lobby against the bill. Here in Oklahoma, contact Lori Peterson of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, at Lori.Peterson@okfb.org or  the Oklahoma Farmers Union (now American Farmers and Ranchers) at  legislation@afrmic.com. 

Below is a version of a letter I have been sending out on this legislation.  Besides the info below, I added info about the Oklahoma Food Coop.  Adapt it for your own circumstances.  The 12 points I cribbed from 12 reasons why the food safety bill from hell could be very dangerous for the US economy.  I suggest you use these 12 points in your own letter, I tweaked them just a bit.

Begin sample letter. . .

Senate Bill 510 is pending in the Senate; a version has passed the US House of Representatives. While it is ostensibly about “food safety”, in actuality it amounts to a major federal power grab over agriculture.

I am strongly against this bill for these reasons:

#1 All food production facilities in the United States will be required to register with the U.S. government. No food will be allowed to be grown, distributed or sold outside this bureaucratic framework unless the FDA allows it.

#2 Any food that is distributed or sold outside of U.S. government control will be considered illegal smuggling.

#3 The FDA will hire an army of new inspectors to enforce all of the new provisions in the bill.

#4 The FDA will be mandated to conduct much more frequent inspections of food processing facilities.

#5 The fees and paperwork requirements will be ruinously expensive for small food producers.

#6 S. 510 would place all U.S. food and all U.S. farms under the Department of Homeland Security in the event of a major “contamination” or an “emergency”. What exactly would constitute a “contamination” or an “emergency” is anyone’s guess.

#7 S. 510 mandates that the FDA facilitate harmonization of American food laws with Codex Alimentarius, which impinges on US sovereignity.

#8 S. 510 imposes an annual registration fee on any facility that holds, processes, or manufactures food. It also includes draconian fines for paperwork infractions of up to $500,000 for a single offense. Just one penalty like that would drive a small food producer out of business.

#9 S. 510 would give the FDA tremendous discretion to regulate how crops are grown and how food is produced in the United States. Basically, farmers will now be forced to farm exactly how the federal government tells them to. This could be a particular problem for small farmers selling direct to the public, many of whom are organic farmers because that is what their market wants to buy. It is feared that the U.S. government would soon declare that many organic farming methods are “unsafe” and would outlaw them.

#10 S. 510 will give the FDA the power to impose a quarantine on a specific geographic area. Basically the FDA would have the power to stop the movement of all food in an area where a “contamination” has been identified. This would be very close to being able to declare martial law.

#11 S. 510 will give the FDA the power to conduct warrantless searches of the business records of small food producers and organic farmers, even if there has been no evidence at all that a law has been broken.

#12 Many farmers are concerned that S. 510 would eliminate the right to clean and store seed. Saving and using your own seed is a traditional frugal practice of many farmers.

There’s been some talk that the bill has been amended to make it more acceptable to small farmers, but I assure you that I am in contact with hundreds of Oklahoma farmers, many of whom are “small farmers”, and they are united in their opposition. Many are afraid it could put them out of business I hope you would agree that any legislation that has the potential of reducing the number of farmers is bad legislation.

Please vote against this bill in the US Senate.

Bob Waldrop

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One Response to FEAR — FIRE — FOES — AWAKE! S 510 may destroy local agriculture.

  1. MBuThe says:

    You neglected to include this portion of the WSJ article:

    “Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D., Conn.), a longtime advocate of tougher food-safety laws, said the legislation already addresses smaller producers’ concerns. For instance, farms selling products directly to consumers from a fruit stand or farmers market would be exempt from some fees and requirements.

    “We’ve made all kinds of accommodations to small farmers so that they are not put at risk,” she said.”

    As someone who has read the bill, let me address your points.

    1. No facility not already registered will be required to register. There will be no fees imposed.

    2. This is a ridiculous idea. Conspiracy theory and not based on anything within the bill.

    3. The increase in FDA inspectors will allow the FDA to conduct regular inspections of high-risk facilities that are what you might consider “big business”. Additionally, more FDA inspectors are needed to fulfill this bills direction to inspect foreign facilities that export to the US.

    4. Once again, food processing facilities of the highest risk factor will garner the more frequent inspections. All facilities already registered will be inspected regularly.

    5. The FDA has the power to exempt small, low-risk facilities under this bill. The fees and paperwork are explicitly required to be responsive to the size of the business and flexible so that small businesses are not burdened. It is written in S. 510.

    6. The DHS would only get involved if necessary. Since DHS was created, it has had authority and/or involvement in many major departments within the executive branch. This bill is nothing new in that respect.

    7. It does not mandate harmonization. It requests that FDA receive comment and advice as to whether or not it should harmonize.

    8. Once again, no registration fees are included in S. 510. Nor is there any mention of the level of any fines.

    9. S. 510 calls for the establishment of “minimum safety standards”. These standards cannot conflict with the standards of the National Organic Program. Since organic standards disallow GM seed, it is extended that FDA’s standards must not include GM seed.

    10. In the event of a major emergency, the FDA, USDA, and DHS will work with the public to coordinate a collective response.

    11. The FDA will have access to paperwork involving production safety procedures and purchase and sale records. This will assist FDA in tracing the source of an outbreak and making sure contaminated products don’t continue to pose a threat.

    12. Opponents to S. 510 are wrong. It does not deal with the cleaning of seeds.

    http://thehill.com/images/stories/blogs/smallfarms.pdf

    You can sign SlowFood USA’s petition to pass S. 510 here: http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5986/p/salsa/web/common/public/signup?signup_page_KEY=2652

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