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

Ben Martin Horst ben.martinhorst at gmail.com
Thu Jul 30 00:26:13 EDT 2009


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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