[permaculture] Once more to the barricades! FDA continues its attack on local food systems

Bob Waldrop bob at bobwaldrop.net
Fri Nov 7 11:25:06 EST 2014


In 2011, Congress in an orgy of corporation entitlement, passed the

"Food Safety Modernization Act", which in reality is the "Impose FDA
Martial Law in Farm Country" Act.

Last year the FDA proposed regulations to implement the act which we
(the Oklahoma Food Coop) and others in the local food community urged
that we all comment on.

Now the FDA is back, with new regulations. They are better than the
previous proposal, but there are still big issues, most notably on how they
impact small farms and food businesses selling directly to the local
community. The entire process is a sustained governmental attack on
local food systems that is driven by the "regulatory capture" by big food
corporations of the food safety regulation system. The big food
corporations know they can't really compete with local foods, so their
best option is to regulate them out of business. The law passed with
strong Bipartisan support, so both Democrats and Republicans are to
blame here.

I invite all to listen to this online Radio Program tomorrow, Nov 8, at
11 AM our time (9 AM Pacific) to an interview with Judith McGeary of the
Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance organization in Texas, which actively
represents small direct-marketing farmers in the public policy debates
with the government.

Tune in at http://metrofarm.com/food-chain-radio/ .

Find the FARFA at http://farmandranchfreedom.org/

Below is an alert sent out by FARFA with detailed actions everyone can
do to defend our right to grow and eat local foods.

The permaculture oil relevance?  Local food systems are the essence of a 
vision of a "permacultured future" where we have an agricultural system 
that cares for people, cares for the planet, and has a care for the 
future by accepting voluntary limits and keeping surplus in 
circulation.  If we let the FDA dump what amounts to unrestricted 
"Round-up" on the nation's small farmers, many of whom are endeavoring 
to incorporate permaculture design into their operations, and the 
nascent invisible structures that compose our burgeoning local food 
systems, then we kill the future.

Please forward this on to others who need to hear about this.

Bob Waldrop, Oklahoma Food Cooperative

http://www.oklahomafood.coop

 From the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance

SUBJECT: Tell FDA to be fair to small farmers!

We fought hard for the Tester-Hagan amendment to exempt small-scale,
direct-marketing farms and artisan food producers from the most
burdensome aspects of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This
exemption is essential to the continued vitality of the local foods
movement.

Now the FDA is proposing rules that would make it very easy for the
agency to force even small-scale farmers to comply with the onerous FSMA
regulations, and all but impossible for these vulnerable farmers to
protect themselves.

Under the proposed rules, if the FDA decides to revoke the Tester-Hagan
exemption and force a small-scale, direct-marketing farmer or artisan
food producer to comply with the new federal requirements:

* The farmer or producer gets only 10 days to submit a written appeal;
* FDA does not have to grant the farmer or producer a hearing;
* FDA is not held to any specific standard for what evidence must be
shown to justify the revocation; and
* The farmer must comply with all FSMA regulations within 60 days, and
food producers must comply within 120 days; under either deadline, it
will be impossible for most small-scale businesses to survive and stay
in business.

In practical terms, under the agency's proposed rules, the FDA will be
able to target small farms and food producers one-by-one and put them
out of business, with little to no recourse for the farmers.

This is the second round of proposed rules under the FSMA, and we
objected to these same problems in the first round. While the agency has
added a provision that allows the farmer or food producer to petition to
re-instate the Tester-Hagan exemption, that could only occur after the
farmer has already complied -- which means that it would be too little,
too late in most cases.

The agency has also added a brand new provision that would require
businesses who purchase ingredients from exempt farms to get various
“assurances” from the farm. This ambiguous provision could create a
significant deterrent for small farms who seek to provide fresh
ingredients to local businesses, hurting both the farms and the
businesses and ultimately reducing consumers’ food options.

ACTION ITEM #1: SIGN ON TO OUR LETTER

Please sign on to our letter to tell FDA to implement the Tester-Hagan
exemption fairly!

SIGN ON HERE: http://bit.ly/sign-the-tester-hagan-letter

The FDA is accepting public comments until Monday, December 15; we will
be collecting sign-on’s to the letter until Friday, December 12, so that
we can compile all of them and submit them in time.

ACTION ITEM #2: CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS

After you’ve signed the letter, you can increase your impact by
contacting your U.S. Representative and Senators and urging them to tell
FDA to respect both the letter and the intent of the Tester-Hagan
exemption.

You can find out who represents you at www.house.gov (for your
Representative) and www.senate.gov (for your Senators). Or you can call
the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

When you call, ask to speak to the staffer who handles food and
agricultural issues.

Key message: "I am a constituent, and I am worried that the FDA's
proposed regulations will unfairly harm the farmers and food producers
who I buy my food from. (Or, if you are a producer, "my farm/food
business.") I would like Representative _____/ Senator ____ to send a
letter to the FDA, urging the agency to revise its regulations so as to
implement the Tester-Hagan exemption fairly and with proper due process
protections."

You can add to that message using some of the sample talking points below.

ACTION ITEM #3: SPREAD THE WORD

Share the sign-on letter with your networks and encourage them to join
the fight! Numbers matter, and the more people we can get to call and
write, the greater our chance of success.

We will have memes on our Facebook page (/FarmAndRanchFreedom), posts on
our Twitter profile (@FARFA_org -- we'll be using the hashtags #FSMA
#FamilyFarmers #TesterExemption), and a flyer posted on our website
(www.FarmAndRanchFreedom.org) that you can share. You can also download
print and social media flyers, as well as view suggested Tweets and
Facebook posts, on our promotion toolkit web page:
www.farmandranchfreedom.org/fsma-promo-toolkit

SAMPLE TALKING POINTS

Here are some talking points you can use when you call your federal
legislators. You don't need to cover all of these, just pick the three
or four points that fit your views.

* Everyone wants safe food. And the track record of small-scale farmers
and food producers is excellent -- the major foodborne illness outbreaks
have all come from the large-scale industrialized food system. That's
why Congress decided to include the Tester-Hagan exemption in the first
place.

* The FDA's proposed regulations undermine the Tester-Hagan provision by
putting these small, high quality farms and food producers at the risk
that an individual bureaucrat can target them with no evidentiary basis
for vague, unspecified problems.

* Revoking the exemption means that the producer would have to comply
with extensive, expensive new regulatory requirements. For example, the
regulations for farmers growing fruits and vegetables would require
building washing and packing facilities, frequent water testing,
extensive recordkeeping and documentation, and processes that will cost
thousands of dollars per year.

* FDA's track record does not inspire confidence. Remember how tomato
producers were devastated because FDA misidentified the source of an
outbreak? If FDA makes a similar mistake when revoking a producer's
exemption, that producer would most likely be driven out of business due
to a too-hasty decision and too-short deadlines for compliance.

* If small farms go under, healthy food will become even more expensive
and, for underserved communities, unattainable, worsening America's
health crisis and the costs associated with it.

* Imposing regulatory burdens on small, local businesses effectively
undermines the economic development opportunity that local food and
agriculture provide for the whole community. Studies have shown that
every dollar spent on local food has a multiplier effect of 1.4 to 2.6
times in the community.

* The FDA has other methods, besides revoking the Tester-Hagan
exemption, to deal with situations in which there is an actual threat to
people's health or a time-sensitive issue. The revocation of the
exemption is a very serious step, and small-scale, direct-marketing food
producers should be given all appropriate due process protections.

* Exempt farms and producers should not be required to provide ambiguous
“assurances” in order to sell to other food businesses under FDA’s new
“supplier verification” program. These assurances do nothing to improve
food safety, but they will discourage small-scale producers from selling
to these markets by creating unclear, unknown legal liabilities.

* The test for qualifying for the exemption should be based on the sales
of foods that are subject to FDA’s jurisdiction, not all foods. A farm
producing a small amount of produce or value-added products should not
be penalized for also producing meat and eggs – all that does is
discourage farmers from diversifying.

-- 
http://www.ipermie.net How to permaculture your urban lifestyle and 
adapt to the realities of peak oil, economic irrationality, political 
criminality, and peak oil.



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