S. 510, please call for the Tester-Hagen amendment

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:

S510 may mean 10 years in prison for Farmers

Food Safety:  The Worst of Both Bills

Frequently Asked Questions about S 510

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.


27 Comments on “S. 510, please call for the Tester-Hagen amendment”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Thanks for keeping us updated on this.

  2. Dee says:

    ot – The House just upheld Obama’s veto of HR 3808.

    HR 3808 – ” To require any Federal or State court to recognize any notarization made by a notary public licensed by a State other than the State where the court is located when such notarization occurs in or affects interstate commerce.”

    This is a good thing re: foreclosures.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thank goodness!

    • Sima says:

      Pheww. I was worried about that, I’d read that they had the votes to override the veto. Maybe the election lesson is sinking in?

      • newdealdem1 says:

        Thanks for this post, Sima. I wrote an email to Gillibrand and Schumer and asked them not to vote for S510 and added what you advised that if they do vote for the bill that they also vote for the Tester/Hagen amendment to take away some of the sting of 510. Fingers crossed that 510 goes down or if it doesn’t that the Tester/Hagen amend passes. I’ll be looking out for the outcome of this tomorrow or Friday.

  3. Dee says:

    Thanks for the updates Sima. Hope the Democrats act like democrats and more than a few Republicans remember that they have small farmers in their state.

    I can already see the booths at the State Fair if small farmers are not protected.

  4. Branjor says:

    The Paycheck Fairness Act went down today.

    • Dee says:

      Oh no – I didn’t know that. Thanks for the comment. I will go do a little research on the voting.

      Wasn’t that the last bill Hillary introduced before she departed?

      • dakinikat says:

        yes, it was and all five republican women that voted for Lilly Ledbetter voted against.

        • Dee says:

          so depressing…

          I saw that the vote was 58 to 41 but had not yet found the voting list. There are two kinds of women in leadership – those who want to be the big fish in a small pond and those who want to be just another fish in a great big pond. Republican women need/like the small pond. But, I can’t help but feel that if Hillary was still in the Senate she would have been able to get those votes.

  5. Dee says:

    Another OT – Obama has just signed an Executive Order reforming the Faith Based office. He finally responded to a six month old study. Guess he wanted to wait until after the mid-terms so he wouldn’t lose all those Republicans votes.

    This just clarifys some rules. He should have closed it down IMO.

  6. Dee says:

    Oh dear, Soros is really not happy –

    WASHINGTON — At a private meeting on Tuesday afternoon, George Soros, a longtime supporter of progressive causes, voiced blunt criticism of the Obama administration, going so far as to suggest that Democratic donors direct their support somewhere other than the president.

    The Hungarian-American financier was speaking to a small side gathering of donors who had convened in Washington D.C. for the annual gathering of the Democracy Alliance — a formal community of well-funded, progressive-minded individuals and activists.

    According to multiple sources with knowledge of his remarks, Soros told those in attendance that he is “used to fighting losing battles but doesn’t like to lose without fighting.”

    The whole article is worth a read.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/17/george-soros-obama_n_785022.html

    • bostonboomer says:

      LOL, just saw that on Olbermann. Keith did his best to argue that Soros wasn’t saying he’s disappointed with Obama. But of course Soros already said that a few weeks ago.

  7. Dee says:

    Obama is giving Bush 41 the Medal of Freedom.

    jesus…

  8. Dee says:

    Wish we had a recall petition provision.

  9. Dee says:

    Again OT – but Reid has announced that DADT will stay in the defense appropriations bill when it is brought to the floor. Grandpappy McShame has promised to filibuster the defense bill if it contains the DADT repeal.

    I am not certain that it won’t be taken out before all is done but at least the Dems have finally drawn a line in the sand and are willing to get into a public argument.

    Meanwhile, Obama has already promised to veto the bill if it contains funding for some kind of jet so my guess is DADT repeal will eventually be traded for a jet.

  10. Zaladonis says:

    Thanks for the specific information about the amendment, Sima. I’ve emailed my Senators, and everybody on my email list and posted it for my facebook friends asking them to do the same.

  11. bostonboomer says:

    Somewhat OT, farm-related tragic story:

    925 pigs died of neglect on a PA farm.

    Authorities are conducting autopsies to determine how 925 pigs were left to die in a barn in south-central Pennsylvania – and to decide whether to charge anyone with a crime.

    The pigs’ carcasses were found in various states of decay last Monday, scattered inside a warehouse-style barn on a farm in Warfordsburg, near the Maryland border.

    “We are trying to determine exactly what happened,” said State Police Lt. Gregory Bacher, adding that he has never seen an apparent act of animal cruelty of this magnitude in 26 years on the job.

    “There are some factors we can’t release now.”

    The farm’s owner, Daniel Clark, left the property in August, authorities said, and the pigs appeared to have been dead for several months.

    Attempts to reach Clark for comment on Monday were unsuccessful.

    They were penned up and unable to escape or fend for themselves. It was a farm used for “finishing.” I guess that means fattening them up for the kill.

    • Sima says:

      Yep, fattening them up.

      I read about this on some of my ag sites, then forgot about, I think probably unintentionally, because it’s so gruesome. Apparently the farm was owned by a separated couple. The guy just up and left the farm and the pigs. The woman hadn’t been to the farm in 2 years, and was horrified by what she saw when she finally went.

      Last May 1500 pigs died on a farm in Indiana because of a power failure. The building holds 8000, 8000!!!, pigs. They are packed in so tight there is little ventilation when the power goes out and the backup systems fail.

      Across the way from us we have a pig farmer. Their meat is sold via subscription and to a local speciality meat store. His pigs live the life of Riley, out there in big muddy pens, with grass available a bit further away, decent coverage during the worst of the weather… If I have to be a pig in another life, I wanna be one of his!

      • Zaladonis says:

        In my early 20s when I was trying to get my life on track I worked for a while on an old family farm in Missouri. In exchange for room and board, two friends and I renovated a dilapidated house on the property so it could be rented for income and helped the old farmer with the chores on his farm — which included about a dozen pigs. I’d arrived in a desperate mental state and my friends and Lowell (the old farmer) were easy company but it was the farm and chores and animals, especially those pigs, that helped me begin to find my bearings. They’re, no doubt you know, intelligent and affectionate animals that will bond like a pet, which Lowell warned me against doing (“It’s hard to eat the bacon after you name the pig Sally”) but that didn’t stop me.

        I understand why those enormous farms have taken over but we lost more than better tasting food with the loss of family farms, we lost part of what gave people in our country their bearings.

  12. Zaladonis says:

    Does anybody else my age wonder what happened to the big concern we liberals had in the 60s and 70s about overpopulation? It just seemed to vanish even as populations continued to rise.

    • Sima says:

      I think it got co-opted by libertarians. At least around here that’s the case. I meet a lot of them, as the local big business (microsoft and computers) seems to attract libertarians. I can understand why. It’s all theory and very attractive, but impossible in application. Anyway, they all mutter about overpopulation.

      Which, of course, means that the real concern about overpopulation gets treated like a lunatic fringe problem, since only the fringe seems to talk about it.

      I also think overpopulation got pushed under the rug because it’s so difficult to control without doing things like, ohh, push contraception and other sensible ideas our Puritanical government would never be involved in.

  13. NW Luna says:

    Sima,
    sent emails to Sens Cantwell & Murray. I’m just catching up blog reading. I’ve read about this alarming bill before and it’s not going to really help food safety but will drown small farmers in requirements. Really hope it goes down.