[permaculture] URGENT REQUEST - Sign on letter supporting Senators Tester's & Hagan's amendments to save local, healthy food from industrial-size-fits-all regulation |was:| Re: self sustainability at risk

Lawrence F. London, Jr. venaurafarm at bellsouth.net
Fri May 14 16:53:04 EDT 2010


 > fdnokes at hotmail.com wrote:
 >http://foodfreedom.wordpress.com/2010/04/24/s-510-is-hissing-in-the-grass/

This is for real and is promoted primarily by groups of non-profits 
whose main focus, mission bottom line, is supporting the advance of 
global corporate-dominated agriculture. ...:LL

*
*From:* local-foods-action-plan-owner at lists.ncsu.edu
<mailto:local-foods-action-plan-owner at lists.ncsu.edu>
[mailto:local-foods-action-plan-owner at lists.ncsu.edu] *On Behalf Of
*Harry and Elaine Hamil
*Sent:* Thursday, May 13, 2010 8:32 AM
*To:* Local-foods-action-plan Listserve*
**Subject:* [local-foods-action-plan] URGENT REQUEST - Sign on
letter supporting Senators Tester's & Hagan's amendments to save local,
healthy food from industrial-size-fits-all regulation
*Importance:* High

Fellow Supporters of Local, Healthy Food,

This is my personal appeal to each of you.  I am speaking for no one but
myself.

Despite the fact that this letter is long, involved and has an
attachment, I believe that you will be able to quickly look through it
for the information needed to decide about my proposal to you.

I'm sending this to the entire local-foods-action-plan listserve so that
each of you will know more about the national effort to convince the key
staff on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP)
Committee to include the amendments originally sponsored by Sen. Jon
Tester (D-MT) in the version of S 510 that will be brought to the floor
of the Senate for final consideration.  As most of you probably know
Sen. Tester's amendments are now co-sponsored by NC's own Sen. Kay Hagan.

Below is the letter for /_*organizations*_/ to sign in support of the
efforts of Senators Tester and Hagan to help small growers, packers,
processors and distributors survive the industrial-size-fits-all
regulatory philosophy of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S-510).
I hope to have a separate means for individuals to express their support
soon.

Currently, signing this letter is the best way for us to show the bread
and depth of the support for the Tester amendments.  This is
done by sending the "Dear Senator" letter below to Judith McGeary, the
Executive Director of Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA)  at
jmcgeary at att.net with a note that the organization wanting to sign onto
the letter.

The Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce is using the word "foodtopia" to
describe the amazing array of local, healthy food found in the Asheville
area.  I believe that it is a word that also accurately describes an
increasing number of other areas of NC plus there are others trying hard
to catch up!

*/These foodtopias may very well disappear unless we are successful in
amending S 510./*

As Sen. Hagan sits on both the HELP Committee, which has jurisdiction
over S 510, and the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship,
her decision to co-sponsor Sen. Tester's amendments is a huge victory
for us.  We owe her a huge thank you because her co-sponsorship
means NC's voice can be the most important in the country.

As Sen. Burr is an original co-sponsor of S 510 and his staff have been
working on this bill for 3 years, his key staff and those of 5 other
Senators (Durbin [D-IL], Enzi [R-WY], Harkin [D-IA], Gregg [R-NH] and
Dodd [D-CT]) are currently deciding what version of S 510 will
actually come to the floor of the Senate.  If the Tester/Hagan
amendments are /_not_/ included, we will be hard pressed to win on the
floor.  Sen. Burr is perfectly positioned to make our voice heard and
amend S 510 /_before_/ it comes to the floor.  Sen. Burr has the
opportunity to be our hero or a villain.

Sen. Burr's 2 key specialists are endeavoring to fully understand the
issues we are raising.  I am convinced they are giving us a
full, fair hearing.  Exempting local, healthy food from */_only_/* the
new additional regulations of S 510 goes against what they have been
hearing for years from the supporters of S 510, particularly the groups
in the Make Our Food Safe (MOFS) Coalition.  Supporting us will
require standing up to the misinformation campaign of MOFS.  Those of
you in the Charlotte area have seen this up close and personal in recent
advertisements in the /Charlotte Observer/ and on the radio.

/*We have to show Sen. Burr that the continued growth of local, healthy
food is a key issue for us in _this_ Senate election.  We want a Senator
who will fight for expanding local, healthy food to _all_ North
Carolinians.*/

Statewide support from a wide variety of organizations will help him
understand the importance of these changes to most North
Carolinians.  As of today, the following NC growths have signed on to
the letter of support:


    1. Black Mountain Tailgate Market;
    2. Bountiful Cities Project;
    3. Carolina Farm Stewardship Association;
    4. Company Shops Market:
    5. Chatham Market;
    6. Deep Roots Market;
    7. Foothills Family Farms Co-op;
    8. French Broad Food Co-op;
    9. Hendersonville Community Co-op;
   10. Western Wake Market; and,
   11. Winter Green

If your farmers tailgate market, your co-op, your non-profit focusing on
agriculture, health or food issues isn't signed on, please forward this
request to them and tell them I will happily answer every question so
they can be sure they support these amendments before signing.

*/As of May 11th, 144 organizations have signed on supporting Senators
Tester's  & Hagan's amendments./*  The current list organizations is
at 
http://farmandranchfreedom.org/sites/farmandranchfreedom.org/files/Amend-S510-May-11.pdf. 

*//*
*/The Senate's version of the food safety bill, S. 510, is expected to
come to the floor immediately after the Memorial Day break so our time
is short _and_ sufficient/. * While the Senate HELP Committee has made
some changes addressing concerns of the local, healthy food movement,
they are almost entirely about rule making.  The changes still leave us
in an endless swamp of rule making.  The bill still contains several
provisions that would be extremely harmful and possibly deadly to our
local, healthy food system of farmers, packers, processors and
distributors.

*/The letter asks the Senators to support these "common sense"
amendments to exempt small-scale and direct-marketing producers from the
inappropriate sections of S 510/.* There are details in the body of the
letter and on the attached Healthy Local Foods Amendment Fact Sheet and
Q & A.   The exempted, small producers will continue to be regulated at
the local,state and federal levels (including by the FDA via the 2009
Food Code, Good Agricultural Processes (GAPs), Good Handling Processes
(GHPs), Good Manufacturing Processes (GMPs) and other
guidance documents; so */this extensive _additional_ federal regulation
is both unnecessary and potentially crippling to small growers, packers,
processors and distributors.
/*
*/Without these changes,/* */_every_ processor using a regional
commercial kitchen, like the 60+ businesses at Blue Ridge Food
Ventures /*(except those exclusively producing "thermally processed
low-acid foods packaged in hermetically sealed containers"), /*will face
a horrible decision:  try to comply _or_ reduce their wholesale side to
less than 50% */so they will be exempted as a "retail food
establishment."  Those businesses who have their own kitchens are also
impacted in the same way.  Here in the mountains of WNC, we have, at
least, a hundred small businesses that will face this dilemma.  It will
cause many to fail.

Processors which focus on the wholesale market, like our own store's own
mustard maker, face these additional regulations.

*/A well-informed, carefully calculated estimate of the cost of
compliance made by the west coast goat cheesemaker, Pug's Leap Farm,/*
caused it to realize that it would have to obtain a $200,000 loan to
cover implementation.  In addition to capital costs in equipment and
facilities, there are expensive training and consulting costs because
each plan is written from scratch.  In addition, this Grade B dairy
*/estimates its annual compliance cost as $50,000/* including 25-30
hours per week personnel cost.  As the dairy's gross income last year
was about $85,000, the owners have put it up for sale.  Not a single
potential buyer is interested in operating the dairy.  All want to build
another winery.

In addition, /_every_/ food distributor will also have to implement
these plans.  This is despite the fact that distributors do /_no_/
processing so they have /_no_/ true "critical control points" at which
to intervene.  The appropriate way to regulate distributors and storage
facilities is via GHPs and spot inspections.

Also, farmers that sell primarily wholesale can have new additional
requirements, too, due to packing and/or processing (/e.g.,/ making
salad mix).  Either can make the farm a "mixed-type facility" under the
2002 Bioterrorism Act and subject to the food safety plan, food defense
plan and expanded traceability requirements of S 510.

Furthermore, */the FDA is already moving forward with the rulemaking
which will be required under Section 105. Standards for Produce Safety/*
by using its current authority to write guidance documents.  Under this
new authority, what was "guidance" (GAPs and GHPs) will be mandatory.
Any raw fruit or vegetable /_not_/ produced and harvested in compliance
with these standards will be "prohibited" or considered "adulterated"
depending upon the final wording.  As shown by last summer's proposed
rules on leafy greens, melons and tomatoes, these regs will almost
certainly be written by type of crop in a fashion only appropriate for
industrial ag and include required 3rd party certification.  Industrial
ag may be able to exempt parts of itself by showing compliance with
equivalent programs (/e.g.,/ the CA Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement).

If you would like more documentation of the foolishness of this
industrial-size-fits-all regulation or to discuss specific details,
please call me immediately and I will do my best to provide what you desire.

If your group does decide to join us, please also drop me a note so that
I can add your name to our NC list and share it with those still
considering whether or not to join us.

Thanks for taking the time to review my request..

Sincerely,

Harry

*Harry Hamil*
*Black Mountain Farmers Market - a year-round store for local, healthy food*
*828/669-4003 - our home & greenhouse (where I usually am)*
*828/664-0060 - the market *


*Below is the letter -*
**

*Support Fresh, Safe Local Food in the Food Safety Bill *

Dear Senator:

The undersigned organizations represent consumers, small farmers and
ranchers, and local food producers who have serious concerns over the
pending food safety legislation, S.510, the Food Safety Modernization
Act. We urge you to support amendments so as to improve food safety
without unnecessarily burdening and handicapping small-scale, local food
producers.

All of the well-publicized incidents of contamination in recent years –
whether in spinach, peppers, or peanuts – occurred in industrialized
food supply chains that span national and even international boundaries.
The food safety problems in this system can and should be addressed
without harming the local food systems that provide an alternative for
consumers.

The growing trend toward healthy, fresh, locally sourced vegetables,
fruit, dairy, and value-added products *improves *food safety by
providing the opportunity for consumers to know their farmers and
processors, to choose products on the basis of that relationship, and to
readily trace any problems should they occur.

Farmers and processors who sell directly to consumers and end users have
a direct relationship with their customers that ensures quality, safety,
transparency and accountability. In addition, small-scale food producers
are already regulated by local and state authorities, and the potential
risk their products pose is inherently limited by their size. For these
farmers and processors, new federal requirements are unnecessary and
would simply harm both the food producers and their consumers.

Although the Committee-passed bill includes some provisions for
flexibility for small and diversified producers, S. 510 still would
establish new hazardous analysis and risk-based preventive controls for
all facilities and authorize FDA to dictate growing and harvesting
practices for produce. These requirements will impose significant
expenses and burdens on individuals and small businesses.

_Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls
_
We therefore urge you to support Senator Tester’s amendment to exempt
small, local processing facilities from the bill’s hazard analysis and
risk-based preventive controls requirements and traceability requirements.

1) With respect to the hazard analysis and risk-based preventive
controls, add the following new section to Section 103:

(l) EXEMPTION FOR CERTAIN FACILITIES – This section shall not apply to a
facility for a year if the average annual adjusted gross income of such
facility for the previous three-year period was less than $500,000.

2) With respect to traceability, add the following new section to
Section 204:

(f) EXEMPTION FOR CERTAIN FACILITIES – The traceback and recordkeeping
requirements under this section shall not apply to a facility for a year
if the adjusted gross income of such facility for the previous year was
less than $500,000.

_FDA Produce Standards_

We also request that you consider an amendment to exempt
direct-marketing farms from the FDA produce standards. With respect to
the produce standards, add the following new section to Section 105:

(g) EXEMPTION FOR DIRECT MARKET FARMS – This section shall not apply to
farms whose annual value of sales of food products directly to
consumers, hotels, restaurants, or institutions exceeds the annual value
of sales of food products to all other buyers.


Food safety is a priority for us all. We share the concerns that have
led to this bill and appreciate Congress’s commitment to addressing
these problems. Thank you for your consideration, and for your support
of a safer, more sustainable food system and consumer access to healthy,
local foods.

For more information, contact Sara Kendall at 202-547-7040 or
sara at worc.org, or Judith McGeary at 512-243-9404 or
Judith at FarmAndRanchFreedom.org.

Sincerely,

Harry



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