The Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510), a bill which will place stricter regulations on farms that process their crops, is on its way to the Senate floor. In many ways, with additional safety protocols, the bill situates food as a security concern and allows the government more control over food distribution and production.
While placing stricter restrictions on crop processing isn’t inherently bad as it helps to crack down on corporate offenders, the bill could have seriously damaging ramifications to small to mid-size farms and small food processing facilities who market their products direct to consumers, stores or restaurants within their region. That means, some of the small farm products you love will have a much harder time getting into stores and your kitchen. Those small farms will also be forced to pay additional fees for required regulations and tests.
Further, smaller farms are what make-up a healthy regional agriculture system, and S.510 could seriously damage the prosperity of these farms/facilities and thus hinder the health and sustainability of our agriculture. If small farms are required to live up to the same regulations as the corporate producers, because those big brands have more resources, it becomes easier for them to take over the market and hurt our agricultural diversity. That loss of diversity is detrimental to the growing local movement and whole concept of sustainable agriculture in the United States.
Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) has sponsored an amendment that would exempt those small farm/facilities with incomes under $500,000. This provides our local farmers with the freedom to continue to provide their products under the existing safety regulations. That doesn’t mean these small farmers and any less safe, just that they will not be subject to the weight of mass regulation and can continue to provide unique product to their region.
Tester frames his amendment well in a press release:
“Let’s face it, dangerous food-borne outbreaks don’t start with family agriculture. Food produced on that scale shouldn’t be subject to the same expensive federal regulations as some big factory that mass produces food for the entire country.”
Please, help support family farms by supporting the Tester Amendment.
How you can help
Call your Senators today and ask them to support the Tester Amendment.
- Go to Congress.org and type in your zip code.
- Click on your Senator’s name, and then on the contact tab for their phone number. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard and ask to be directly connected to your Senator’s office: 202-224-3121.
- Once connected ask to speak to the legislative staff person responsible for agriculture. If they are unavailable leave a voice mail message. Be sure to include your name and phone number.
The message is simple. “I am a constituent of Senator___________ and I am calling to ask him/her to support the Tester Amendment and to include the Tester language in the Manager’s Amendment to the food safety bill. The Tester Amendment will exempt small farm and food facilities and farmers who direct market their products to consumers, stores or restaurants. We need a food safety bill that cracks down on corporate bad actors without erecting new barriers to family farms and the growing healthy food movement. Our continuing economic recovery demands that we preserve these market opportunities for small and mid-sized family farms.
Thank you for your support!