September 23, 2010
FOOD SAFETY LEGISLATION MUST PROTECT
FAMILY FARMS, SUSTAINABLE & ORGANIC AGRICULTURE
CALL YOUR SENATORS TODAY AND URGE THEM
TO SUPPORT THE TESTER AMENDMENT
The Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) could reach the Senate floor as early as tomorrow. NSAC has been able to win several improvements to the bill but more changes are needed to avoid serious harm to family farm value-added processing and the emergence of local and regional food systems.
S.510 would considerably ramp up FDA regulation on farms that even minimally process their crops and sell them to restaurants, food coops, groceries, schools and wholesalers. An amendment sponsored by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) would exempt small farm and small food processing facilities as well as small and mid-sized farmers who primarily direct market their products to consumers, stores or restaurants within their region.
Please call your Senators today and ask them to support the Tester Amendment.
It’s easy to call – for Massachusetts:
Senator John Kerry: Washington office – 202-224-2742, Boston office – 617-565-8519
Senator Scott Brown: Washington office – 202-224-4543, Boston office – 617-565-3170
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.
Most sustainable agriculture and family farm groups think the Senate bill with changes won by NSAC is a very significant improvement over the companion bill passed by the House of Representatives (HR 2749) last year. The changes listed below will be included in the bill that goes to the Senate floor for a vote. We can’t support the Senate bill, however, unless the Tester amendment is also adopted. We strongly oppose the companion House measure, and stand ready to defend the “good amendments” to the Senate bill when it goes to conference with the House later this year.
The best way to ensure that the Tester provision is included with the final bill that emerges from conference is for it to be included in the Manager’s Amendment as it goes to the floor of the Senate. The Manager’s Amendment includes all of the language that has the support of the three Democrats and three Republicans who are sponsoring the bill. Please call your Senator and request that the Tester language be added to the Manager’s Amendment.
The Manager’s Amendment to S.510 already includes the following important improvements to the bill that have been backed by NSAC:
- Sanders (D-VT) amendment (requiring FDA to write regulations to determine low risk on-farm processing activities that can be exempt from regulatory requirement);
- Bennet (D-CO) amendment (to reduce unnecessary paperwork and streamline requirements for farmers and small processors);
- Stabenow (D-MI) amendment (to create a USDA-delivered competitive grants program for farmer food safety training);
- Boxer (D-CA) amendment (to eliminate anti-wildlife habitat language from the bill); and
Brown (D-OH) amendment (on traceability requirements, including exemptions for direct marketing and farm identity-preserved marketing).