S. 510, please call for the Tester-Hagen amendmentPosted: November 17, 2010
Note: I wanted to get this written up and posted yesterday, but family duties called me away and I spent all day at my parents’ house taking care of my sister.
Right now I am stressing about Senate Bill 510. The bill passed cloture today, and will come up for vote tomorrow or Friday, I believe. An important amendment, written by Senator Tester and Senator Hagen, would exempt small farms from many of the onerous provisions of this bill. Food experts, farm advocates, and consumer safety experts have debated the provisions of the bill over at Grist (see this article on if the bill will better provide food safety, this article on if the bill will harm small farmers, and this one on if we really have a food safety crisis), if you are interested in their arguments.
If S 510 passes without the Tester-Hagen amendment and then goes into reconciliation with the absolutely horrid (for small farms) House bill (HR 2749) which passed last year, I expect to be eventually regulated out of business. And I expect many, many other small farms to suffer the same fate. The law has no provisions in it to protect small farms; it simply urges the FDA and FEMA, yes, our food supply would come under FEMA, to consider small farms when making regulations. AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. The Tester-Hagen amendment makes it law that they do so. The Bill is partly concerned with ‘terrorist’ scenarios, such as someone poisoning our food supply. If we were getting food from millions of small family farms, such a thing couldn’t occur. But the bill gives FEMA the power to intervene in cases of suspected terrorism, or food ‘adulteration’, however they end up defining it.
There’s some good parts in this bill. It does provide more oversight for Big Ag. I’m sure that’ll last until the regulations actually get written (cynical, cynical me). But as I see it, this bill and the House bill are just grandstanding so government people can say they ARE doing something about the supposed food safety crisis. If the USDA and the FDA had the funds to do the inspections they need and if our Senators and Representatives would seriously look into getting the lobbyists out of the regulatory mix, we’d not need these bills at all.
Anyway, I ask you to call or email your Senators and ask them, if they must vote for this bill, that they also vote for the Tester-Hagen amendment. It’s probable that every Dem Senator will vote for it, so let’s do what we can to make it more palatable to the small food producers that hope to feed us all.
More links of possible interest:
I’m trying to look on the bright side. If the bill passes, is reconciled with the House bill and becomes the pile of ummhmmm I suspect it will, it can still be fought during the formation of regulations phase. Oh joy.