Monday, November 22, 2010

The Battle Isn't Won...Yet

Since I've joined the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, I have been receiving updates on a piece of legislation that will certainly affect all our future agrarian adventures: The Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510). Last week I called my senators to thank them for supporting the Tester-Hagan amendment to S.510. But another round of calls is needed...

"Dear CFSA members: This email is to congratulate you, and to warn you.

Late last Friday we took a big leap forward in the fight to defend healthy small farms and local food producers from industrial-scale food safety regulation. After months of negotiations and grassroots pressure from you, the Senate agreed to insert the language of the Tester-Hagan amendment into the version of S.510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, that comes up for a vote on Nov. 29. Instead of requiring a separate vote, the protections for local, organic food in the Tester-Hagan amendment will automatically become law if Congress passes the “Manager’s Amendment” to S.510. We have come a long way from the terrible food safety bill passed by the House of Representatives last year, and CFSA members have been crucial in achieving in this success!

And now the lobbyists representing the biggest food processors, handlers, and distributors--the huge businesses that have a stranglehold on most of the American food system today, and that are responsible for the vast majority of foodborne illness outbreaks--are on the attack. Those lobbyists issued a letter last week denouncing the Tester-Hagan language and vowing to fight against it.

If those special interests can convince enough Senators to retreat from the agreement reached last Friday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be free to issue its planned regulations for on-farm produce safety. FDA's rules will likely cover every single farm in the country, regardless of size or market served, unless Congress requires the agency to follow the Tester-Hagan language.

The special interests have a full week to fight their campaign against sensible protections for local, organic food and farms. Don’t let them win it!

Thank NC Senators Richard Burr and Kay Hagan for successfully fighting to get the Tester-Hagan language in the Manager’s Amendment. And ask SC’s Senators Jim DeMint and Lindsay Graham to vote in favor of the Manager’s Amendment on Nov. 29. If you have friends in other parts of the country that care about local, organic food, especially in Virginia, Maryland, and Tennessee, please forward this information and ask them to call their Senators, too. To get your Senator’s contact information, go to, and type in your zip code. You can also call the Capitol Switchboard and ask to be directly connected to your Senator’s office: 202-224-3121.

When you call, the message is simple: “I am a constituent of Senator___________ and I am calling to ask him/her to vote for the Manager’s Amendment to S.510, the Food Safety Modernization Act because it includes the Tester-Hagan amendment. With this new language, the Manager’s Amendment will protect small farms and food entrepreneurs in the local food movement from industrial-scale regulations. Local food producers are already subject to state laws that protect consumers, and the Tester-Hagan amendment is vital to economic recovery, public health, and nutritional wellbeing because it allows state government to keep doing its job, and allows local food producers to keep creating more jobs.”

Thanks for everything you’ve done to get our movement this far. Let’s keep up the pressure.

Roland McReynolds, Esq.
Executive Director
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association"