Congressional sex .......or the screwing of small market farmers!!

OK -- Cue the soap box!!!

I spent yesterday reading the House of Representatives Bill H.R. 875: The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009. A little light reading for my light-weight brain.

And if I am wrong .... someone correct me. I have broad shoulders -- I can take it.

Let me first say, food safety is a priority to me. I spent 5 days in a hospital due to improperly cooked hamburgers from a national fast food restaurant. Someone didn't wash their hands. Yea... that was TMI for me!!! Spinach with e coli, peanut butter with salmonella, e coli out-breaks at White Castle are not acceptable. But this legislation is doing just the opposite to encourage food safety.

The safest food you can eat in America is raised by small conscientious farmers. Farmers that care for their animals, the food they grow, the jams they process, the bread they bake. Why??? Because they eat the products too. The USDA for years has encouraged farmers' markets. Food gurus like Micheal Pollan, Alice Waters, Eliot Coleman have prodded Americans to eat local fresh foods.

Now..........Ms Rosa Delauro has introduced this legislation that will take farming to a whole new level. Well -- maybe not a whole new level.......... just the level that Monsanto, ADM, and Cargill wanted ..... no organic, no small farms.

Ok -- first of all here is the link to get the bill. Fill your printer. Its 65 pages long.

The big concerned to me .... and to most of you........ should be in section 1 -- sub-section 3 (Definitions) Lets talk food establishment. Did you know ...... most market farmers will be a Category 3 Establishment because we sell "fresh produce in ready-to-eat form. Hello!!! Tomatoes!!

I personally think I am a category 2 food establishment. I put eggs in a carton to sell. (But they are brand-new, clear plastic, very pretty egg cartons!)

So I am reading away ..... thinking there has to be an exclusion from all of this for the small market farmer. I think I found it!!

(B) EXCLUSIONS- For the purposes of registration, the term ‘food establishment’ does not include a food production facility as defined in paragraph (14), restaurant, other retail food establishment, nonprofit food establishment in which food is prepared for or served directly to the consumer, or fishing vessel (other than a fishing vessel engaged in processing, as that term is defined in section 123.3 of title 21, Code of Federal Regulations).

Ok ---What is a food production facility? Next paragraph ...... here it is.

14) FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITY- The term ‘food production facility’ means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation.

Uhhhhh........... that would mean me. And you. And what does that mean for us????

Well -- hop on down to Sec. 206 where the fine Congressmen have included the inspection of Food Production Facilities. Yea. At anytime, your friendly auditor from the newly-formed Food Safety Administration can pop in and say "Hello! Where are your fertilization records? And where did this seed come from??"

So along with everything else we do (most of us, by ourselves or with limited family help) we get to keep food safety records that will include the following:

(3) include, with respect to growing, harvesting, sorting, and storage operations, minimum standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animal encroachment, and water;

(4) include, with respect to animals raised for food, minimum standards related to the animal’s health, feed, and environment which bear on the safety of food for human consumption;

Oh -- they will take "into account the needs of small businesses for additional time to comply".

How sweet of them.

I have called my Congressman and Senator ----- with no response and a so-what attitude from the staff. I should be a tad more understanding ...... but they acted like this just doesn't matter!!! Just to make this clear -- I live in First District Iowa and my Senator is chairman of the Agriculture Committee. Obviously, they have my votes for the next two years and by that time -- I will be out of business so they don't give a f*ck!!! But they did thank me for my call.

In 2007, Miss Effie's was featured in the Travel Iowa campaign and their national Iowa Tourism Calendar because we were a unique farm that reflected the values of Iowa and the Iowa farmer. We were one of the few private venues that was featured..... most were festivals and community events. We were honored to be there.

But that is what we all are ..... unique farms that reflect the values of America and the American farmer. And Ms Delauro wants to shut us down?????

So ..... I am asking you to contact your congressman and ask him/her to vote against H.R. 875.
Forward this blog to your friends. Let's get some action going.

I don't mind being screwed ....... but I would like to be kissed first!!!


Anonymous said…
Great blog Cathy.
I did a follow up over at the DailyKos
I look forward to reading tomorrow and something to take to market for Saturday.
Keep up the hard work, you are wonderful!
melanie said…
Excellent post! My first read through makes me think the thing they lack is a definition of "farm" - differentiating the small, responsible organic farmer from the greedy, corporate mega farm that fertilizes with tainted water and only pursues profits...

We need a threshold definition that allows us to stay small and "beneath" the radar...
clink said…
Exactly, Melanie!!! I have called three congressional and one senate office trying to get the definition of a farm according to this bill.

With no response.

I have heard people say that this will not affect farmers' markets. Show me!! Read section 206 about "food production facility" (ie@ a farm) and it looks like Hell to me.

And let's not start on Section 210 -- traceback requirements!
Farm-Raised said…
Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Cathy. I assume that you're rallying the troops at the market? Is there a list of numbers or a letter/email that would make it easy for people to march? I haven't studied up on this completely yet, but I will. I hope you'll write more...


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