[permaculture] HR 2479 alert (US proposed legislation that willnegatively impact local foods

Robert Waldrop bwaldrop at cox.net
Thu Jul 30 01:06:27 EDT 2009


Thanks for the heads up about the typo.  Since 
sending the message, I have learned that it will 
be voted on Thursday (July 30) afternoon, so time 
is of the essence.  Phone calls or faxes to the DC 
office of your representative will do the most 
good.

Robert Waldrop, OKC

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ben Martin Horst" 
<ben.martinhorst at gmail.com>
To: "permaculture" 
<permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 11:26 PM
Subject: Re: [permaculture] HR 2479 alert (US 
proposed legislation that willnegatively impact 
local foods


> Actually HR 2749. The other (HR 2479) is an 
> orthotics bill.
>
> -Ben
>
> On 7/29/09, Robert Waldrop <bwaldrop at cox.net> 
> wrote:
>> I'm sorry, but I would like to interrupt our
>> discussion with news of a potential threat to
>> small scale vegetable production and artisan 
>> food
>> processing in the United Stats.
>>
>> HR 2479 is a proposed bill in the US House of
>> Representatives that would have negative 
>> impacts
>> on many small farmers.  For the first time, it
>> would allow the FDA to issue regulations 
>> governing
>> the production, harvesting, and distribution of
>> fresh vegetables. It imposes new fees and
>> regulations on artisan food producers and on
>> farmers.
>>
>> It was first presented to the full House this
>> afternoon (Wednesday) under rules that allowed 
>> no
>> debate or floor amendments, and thus it 
>> required a
>> 2/3rds majority to pass.  It fell short of the
>> required votes by only 6.
>>
>> Late Wednesday afternoon, the House Rules
>> Committee met under emergency rules, made a few
>> minor changes to the bill, but left most of it
>> intact.  So it will be voted on again, possibly
>> very soon.  The summary of the changes the 
>> Rules
>> Committee made at its page reporting the action
>> http://rules.house.gov/SpecialRules_details.aspx?NewsID=4413
>> is inaccurate.
>>
>> I read the entire thing.  (I had to put on some
>> relaxing music so I could get through it. I
>> probably also should have been drinking 
>> chamomile
>> tea. Or maybe bourbon.)
>>
>> The last sentence of the committee summary of 
>> its
>> action says -- "In the fresh produce section of
>> the bill, it is clarified that the FDA should
>> issue standards only for the riskiest types of
>> products."
>>
>> I didn't find anything that actually said that 
>> in
>> the actual text.  There's some fluff about
>> consulting with the Sec of Ag and taking into
>> account the impact on small farmers yadda yadda
>> yadda but I didn't see anything that would 
>> prevent
>> the FDA from issuing detailed regs to farmers
>> about their vegetable production practices.
>>
>> Another problem with the summary -- "For 
>> instance,
>> the substitute amendment provides that farms,
>> including those that process food and feed that
>> they sell to other farms or primarily directly 
>> to
>> consumers, do not have to register or pay. "
>>
>> This is sort of true and sort of not true.  If 
>> a
>> farm sells to both individuals and into some 
>> sort
>> of regular commercial marketplace, the value of
>> the sales of individuals must be greater than 
>> the
>> value of its other sales for the farm to be
>> exempt.  Also, "farm to school" sales are NOT
>> exempt, so this will be a burden for farmers
>> participating in farm to school programs.
>>
>> I also didn't really see anything that exempts
>> artisan producers.  Maybe some that only do 
>> direct
>> sales, but once they branch out from that, they
>> come under the full impact of the regulations, 
>> and
>> the fines for non-compliance are very large,
>> starting at $20K and going up from there, and
>> every "day" of the violation is a separate
>> offense.  I can see people looking at that risk
>> (plus the criminal penalties, which start at 10
>> years in jail) and deciding to just close up 
>> shop.
>>
>> They did take out the bizarre provision of the
>> original bill that would allow meat packers to 
>> use
>> carbon monoxide to preserve the red color of 
>> the
>> meat. .
>>
>> I think this bill is likely to negatively 
>> impact
>> anyone involved with permaculture who is also
>> trying to earn income by the sale of their 
>> on-site
>> produced products.
>>
>> I intend to continue to oppose this bill and
>> encourage others to do likewise. If you are in 
>> the
>> United States, you can find out the contact 
>> info
>> for your congressional representative by going 
>> to
>> http://www.house.gov and entering your zip code 
>> in
>> the box in the upper left corner of the screen.
>>
>> It's obvious that this is an attempted major 
>> power
>> grab of authority over the growing of 
>> vegetables,
>> and the last minute exemptions the Rules 
>> Committee
>> threw in are only a fig leaf attempt to give up
>> the least amount possible so they can maybe get
>> this passed.
>>
>> Once the camels nose of regulation of vegetable
>> production is in the tent, the rest of the 
>> animal
>> will not be far behind.  The attitude of the
>> government towards farming for 50 years has 
>> been
>> "get big or get out", and I think this is the
>> latest incarnation of that program. For some, 
>> it
>> may be the last straw and they will just give 
>> up.
>>
>> I feel like I need a flag with a cabbage on it
>> that says -- "Don't tread on me."
>>
>> Robert Waldrop, president
>> Oklahoma Food Cooperative
>> www.oklahomafood.coop
>> froglet in training with Barking Frogs
>> Permaculture, www.barkingfrogspermaculture.org
>>
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