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A Blow to Small Farmers is HR 2749


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I recieved this from a great farmer in Virginia. We need to help and act quickly:

I am sending this to you because there is a threat to Chapel Hill Farm, all small farmers and you as a consumer. You have a dog in this fight. So, you might want to Google HR 2749 and see what's up. In the unlikely event you want to read the bill itself, click this site:

www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h111-2749

Unfortunately, the agribusiness lobby has been busy again in conjunction with the FDA. There is a bill in congress designated HR 2749 which gives the FDA extraordinary powers and makes little distinction between small farmers, who present little danger to the food supply, and large agribusiness combines, which present great danger to the food supply.

You can click on the following three websites to get a flavor of the problem:

http://www.blacklistednews.com/news-4546-0-13-13--.html

http://www.ftcldf.org/docs/hr2749_talkingpoints.html

http://www.healthfreedom.net/

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...and makes little distinction between small farmers, who present little danger to the food supply, and large agribusiness combines, which present great danger to the food supply.

I'll agree with you that this may be burdensome on small farmers moreso than a large producer, but unfortunately my lack of representation doesn't help your cause. As for your comment that small farmers pose little danger to the food supply, i'm not convinced and never understand why people make that generalization. Salmonella and other dangers to the food supply can come from small farmer joe or large farmer corporation. Don't fool yourself.

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I'll agree with you that this may be burdensome on small farmers moreso than a large producer, but unfortunately my lack of representation doesn't help your cause. As for your comment that small farmers pose little danger to the food supply, i'm not convinced and never understand why people make that generalization. Salmonella and other dangers to the food supply can come from small farmer joe or large farmer corporation. Don't fool yourself.

Yes, it certainly may, but the small farmer usually has a closer check to his produce and livestock. The big guy may be able to perform government tests on his poultry but does that really matter when he is only required to test 1 out of 10,000? If it weren't for some of the exemption laws which are still in existence in most states, the small farmer would be required to spend the same money on testing his 100-1000 chickens! This would be entirely cost prohibitive.

And yes thiese diseases may also come from a small farmers produce, but can you cite one case in which it has? When we get government and high powered lobby meddling in our food supply that is when shit happens. Look at our milk supply! The USA and Brazil are the only two countries in the world that allow BGH in their dairy production. Google the side effects of this chemical. We have Monsanto to thank for this!

No thank you,I would rather eat from a nonregulated farmer who has a relationship with the land than a government "regulated" agribusiness any day!

BTW, I see the bill is sponsored by five Democrats, I thought they were the peoples' party? Or do they just believe government can run everything better....,just sayin'.....

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No thank you,I would rather eat from a nonregulated farmer who has a relationship with the land than a government "regulated" agribusiness any day!

I'm there with you, Raisa! Produce, meats, dairy, and eggs from farmers practicing sustainable techniques (as promoted by Joel Salatin) are significantly safer than the same products from large agribusiness. I appreciate that they are also more expensive, because more land is required to produce them, but I'm grateful that I can obtain them. Small farmers are an important part of our food chain.

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Have to say my position is moderate.

Disclaimer: if any of the following is too flamingly political, please tap me on the shoulder and I'll gladly edit out the most controversial parts for the sake of retaining those of redeeming value. :rolleyes:

I'd like more statistics to back up impressions, but based on the kinds of leftist, activist info I tend to favor, the biggest problems we have in the area of food safety tend to derive from large-scale operations, and usually implicate poor practices in animal husbandry or in food-processing as opposed to contamination down at the farm itself.

Therefore, I am all for establishing priorities and addressing the biggest sources of grievances first.

Send a bunch of over-educated professionals trained in the crucial skills of critical reading and critical analysis to Capitol Hill to oversee lobbying efforts and help dismantle barriers that thwart profound change in agricultural policy.

Find something else for Monsanto employees in Saint Louis, Missouri to do that is useful. Like going to East Saint Louis to rebuild, restore and renew, instead of assuming influential roles in federal government.

Nonetheless, food safety should be addressed across the board on small and large farms, especially since large food-companies are often a conglomerate of small-scale operations that the big guys do not oversee well, and as some would have it, actively encourage to be slovenly for the sake of keeping down operation-costs, or at least, they turn a blind eye to potential risk for the sake of profit. In these cases, the large companies ought to cover the cost of inspections and the implementation of new safety standards, say in the case of poultry farming.

Many small farms in our region are scrupulous about self-monitoring. Those who sell eggs, for example, abide by USDA standards even when they're not obliged. They are also inspected, though, including by trained, certified people who run markets where they sell their wares. (Disclaimer: I don't have all the facts on this one; I am simply recalling a couple of conversations w farmers, among others.)

I am very sympathetic to the distress that HR 2749 causes, especially because of the expense and the time-consuming nature of the work it threatens to create for those who have pretty exhausting, sleep-deprived lives that involve few, if any luxuries. Since I haven't read the bill, I don't feel qualified to say much more than I have. It sounds as if defeat is in order for the sake of revision and for re-evaluating the best targets for reform. That said, some of the folk behind it, such as Rosa DeLauro, are respected friends of farmers who have gained recognition for attempts to overhaul the Farm Bill.

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I'm there with you, Raisa! Produce, meats, dairy, and eggs from farmers practicing sustainable techniques (as promoted by Joel Salatin) are significantly safer than the same products from large agribusiness.

I disagree they are safer, much less "significantly safer". I'll give you that buying sustainable/local/organic/whatever floats your boat may make you happy or feel like a better person for buying that product, but there are no good hard facts that these products are any safer than any product sold at a generic supermarket.

I buy most of my produce at the local farmers market a block from my house. I do so because I think the quality is often better (though often not), because I like to be able to talk to the people that grow my food and I like to see my neighbors. I pay very high prices for the privilege to eat these veges. That being said, I can't fathom how the produce I buy there is any safer than what I buy at Giant or Costco or wherever. Unless you are telling me that local Farmer Joe is hand washing each and ever animal, fruit, vegetable, etc. in a clean room with sterile water, i'm not sure how any educated person can by that its safer. Makes you happy to buy it. Sure. Safer, not really.

A lot of people have the misconception that large agriculture is unsafe. They see recalls, freak out and only buy from Farmer Joe if they can afford to do so. A lot of these recalls are the result of significantly more sensitive testing equipment that the producers are using to test their products, tests that local farmers do not often do simply because they are cost prohibitive or for a variety of reasons (though as Anna points out above, some do). I'm willing to bet a lot of money that if we walked through any farmers market on any given day and bought a random assortment of products and tested them with the same equipment larger producers use, the results would be similar (or maybe even worse).

Birds shit on small farms and big ones. Its the hard truth.

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...Birds shit on small farms and big ones. Its the hard truth.

If only bird spackle were the sole threat to our health.

E. Coli, Salmonella, and runoff, oh my....

Rather than jump on my soapbox here, I think I'll trek over to Shirlington to catch another showing of Food, Inc.

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I disagree they are safer, much less "significantly safer". I'll give you that buying sustainable/local/organic/whatever floats your boat may make you happy or feel like a better person for buying that product, but there are no good hard facts that these products are any safer than any product sold at a generic supermarket.

I buy most of my produce at the local farmers market a block from my house. I do so because I think the quality is often better (though often not), because I like to be able to talk to the people that grow my food and I like to see my neighbors. I pay very high prices for the privilege to eat these veges. That being said, I can't fathom how the produce I buy there is any safer than what I buy at Giant or Costco or wherever. Unless you are telling me that local Farmer Joe is hand washing each and ever animal, fruit, vegetable, etc. in a clean room with sterile water, i'm not sure how any educated person can by that its safer. Makes you happy to buy it. Sure. Safer, not really.

A lot of people have the misconception that large agriculture is unsafe. They see recalls, freak out and only buy from Farmer Joe if they can afford to do so. A lot of these recalls are the result of significantly more sensitive testing equipment that the producers are using to test their products, tests that local farmers do not often do simply because they are cost prohibitive or for a variety of reasons (though as Anna points out above, some do). I'm willing to bet a lot of money that if we walked through any farmers market on any given day and bought a random assortment of products and tested them with the same equipment larger producers use, the results would be similar (or maybe even worse).

Birds shit on small farms and big ones. Its the hard truth.

Birds shitting have very little to do with the contaminations.

Organophosphorus pesticides (OP) - malathion, chlorpyrifos, arsenic, BGH, antibiotics...ask your grocer which ones were used on your produce and meats. A huge agribusiness has no recouse but to use these as it is impossible to spend the time and care that it requires not to use them! Are you okay ingesting these? Do you really believe they will do no harm?

And how about antibiotics and the aforementioned diseases? Scientists believe that this rampant overuse of antibiotics is causing the DNA of infectious pathogens like salmonella, E. coli and campylobacter to change and make the diseases resistant to the drugs that traditionally wiped them out. Once resistant, the deadly bacteria can easily survive in the animals and be transmitted to humans as contaminated meat.

HOw are they supposed to monitor each and every animal in order not to use these?

Believing everything the government (FDA) tells you... that is the big misconception.

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Automatic email from The Center for Scientists in the Public Interest or something to that effect. These guys really seem into the bill.

(Please don't shoot the messenger who is not urging its passage.)

Dear [Anna Blume},

Great news on the food safety front! Tonight the House of Representatives took the first step toward improving the safety of the foods we eat by passing the Food Safety Enhancement Act.

After countless Salmonella and E. coli outbreaks prompting recalls of spinach, tomatoes, peanuts, and, most recently, cookie dough, consumer confidence is at an all-time low while industries and farmers suffer major financial losses. But if passed by the Senate and signed by the President, the Food Safety Enhancement Act would dramatically increase the frequency of inspections of the farms and processing facilities that produce our foods. Passing this bill in the House is a huge victory for public health.

I want to congratulate CSPI’s food safety director Caroline Smith DeWaal and her skilled team for their tireless work making the case for the important reforms that passed today. But more to the point, I want to thank you for your ongoing support—it has been absolutely critical to our success.

Stay tuned as we turn our attention to passing food safety reform in the United States Senate.

Sincerely,

Michael F. Jacobson

Executive Director

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Hey, tg2. I haven't read all the available literature, but when speaking to someone on Sunday who had been recently briefed, I was told that HR 2749 had been altered significantly in deference to the little women and guys who run small farms.

So while the tone of the second comment below your linked article is unnecessarily rude, its substance is accurate and more up-to-date than the op-ed piece itself.

Please note that Chef RJ Cooper started a topic on this very subject which you may wish to read.

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I found this letter to CSPI on the bill and their response to be fascinating reading. I actually agree with CSPI. (man, that was hard to type).

Letter to CSPI:

Food Safety Bill MUST Protect Small-Scale Producers and Farmers!

Dear Ms. O'Reilly,

One in four Americans will get sick from tainted food this year and about 5,000 will die, but this doesn't have to be the case. Foodborne illness is preventable -- if industrial producers and food manufacturers were required to develop plans aimed at preventing bacterial contamination in food and the FDA had the authority and tools necessary to oversee and better ensure the safety of the food supply. The House passed bipartisan food safety legislation (the Food Safety Enhancement Act, H.R. 2749) in July. However, many organizations in the sustainable food community believe that this bill will jeopardize the work of small-scale producers and family farmers. For example, a small family farmer will have to pay the same annual registration fee as an industrial giant like Archer-Daniels Midland. This is unjust and places undue burden on small farmers who are NOT the primary source of food contamination. There should be no food safety bill without specific protections for small-scale and family farms and small-scale food producers! I call on you to support Senate action on balanced legislation that would create a comprehensive system for preventing and responding to foodborne illness while protecting America's small-scale farmers and producers.

Thank you in advance for you attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

CSPI's Response:

-------------

From: NAH CSPI <nah@cspinet.org>

Date: Thu, Sep 10, 2009 at 3:11 PM

Subject: Re: Attn: Ms. Kathleen O'Reilly

To: xxx

Thanks for your email. Our Senior Staff Attorney in our Food Safety Department has responded to your concerns as follows:

The Food Safety Enhancement Act is about building safety into the production of all food that is offered for sale to the public and is designed to protect public health. Even so, it is somewhat surprising to see the bill described as treating all food processors the same. In one sense that may be true. All food processors will have to plan for safety. That is not a bad thing, though. Whether the processor is selling a premium product (like artisan cheese) to a few customers, or mass marketing cheese to thousands of customers, every consumer has an expectation that the people who produce food for us are taking measures to ensure that food is safe. On the other level, though, the bill is anything but a one-size-fits all measure. Each food processor is responsible for reviewing potential hazards (such as the potential of Listeria Monocytogenes contamination of cheese) that are likely to be present in the food it makes. From that review, a processor is to design controls that will prevent, eliminate or reduce the hazard (such as maintaining proper temperatures and aging cheese appropriately). Each control is then monitored by the processor. These are steps that build safety into the processing of food, and that every processor regardless of size should take to ensure products are safe. Since the processor identifies the hazards, designs the controls and does the monitoring, each processor can match the safety measure to the size of the plant and/or volume of production. Claims that food safety plans are difficult to develop and complex are unfounded and speculative. The Europeans have been requiring all food processors to follow the same steps of hazard analysis, implementing critical control points and monitoring for years and, to my knowledge, have not found it to put undue burdens on artisan food suppliers.

Not only does the Food Safety Enhancement Act call for each food processor to design a system best suited to ensuring the safety of its product, the bill also phases in the requirement to have a food safety plan so that small and very small companies will have up to three years to develop and implement their plans. Also, FDA is required to consider the impact of any regulations on these companies and provide assistance to them in complying with the safety requirements. These steps are designed to preserve artisan, small, and very small processors by easing the transition to a modern food safety system focused on preventing illnesses.

Artisan foods offer many qualities such as taste, nutritional depth, sustainability, etc. that mass produced products cannot. But these qualities are not necessarily safety attributes. If safety is not built into the process, then artisan food processors have the same capacity to make their customers sick as mass producers. The fact that they have fewer customers isn't going to make a difference to the people who suffer an illness that was preventable, and that can be life threatening or lead to long-term health problems.

The $500 registration fee may apply to some larger artisan food processors. (However, keep in mind that artisan food processors can be subsidiaries of very large companies, because the term is not defined in law. This creates a problem for crafting an exemption from the fee.) Not every small processors will have to pay the fee. A small processor may fall under the existing retail food establishment exemption. This exemption applies to any processor who sells more than half of the food it processes directly to consumers. Meanwhile, Congress has attempted to address the potential adverse affect of the fee on small processors. The registration fee has been reduced from $2,000 when the bill was first introduced to $1,000 and now $500. Since the bill has not passed either the House or Senate, it is possible further changes may be made to the fee structure. However, one of the problems the bill attempts to address is that of providing adequate funding for FDA to carry out its food safety mission.

It is true that we need to establish a system for preventing food-borne illnesses caused by mass-marketed foods. But everyone who produces food for sale to the public has a responsibility to do so with the safety of the consumer as a primary concern.

David W. Plunkett, J.D., J.M.

Senior Staff Attorney, Food Safety Program

Center for Science in the Public Interest

1875 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 300

Washington, DC 20009-5728

Tel: (202) 777-8319

Fax: (202) 265-4954

Email: dplunkett@cspinet.org

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