Monday, November 16, 2009

The Blues and Greens of Community Action

This post is about two very different ways you can participate in important community action to strengthen and protect our vibrant local food system. I will start with the more social of the two, even though this event is slightly less urgent. The Kennett Square Farmers Market is teaming up with the Kennett Flash's monday night Blues Jam to present a community potluck and yes, electric blues jam. For more information about this event check out the posting on the Kennett Square Farmers Market blog. Last year the potluck was actually at the farm, and the food and crowd were just amazing. I am sure the mix of music and Kennett spirit will produce an even more magical evening. Hope you can make it out next Monday November 23rd, 6:30PM (music starts at 8PM).

The second action requires immediate attention and is all about the up coming Food Safety Legislation. Although I whole heartedly support legislation that protects the health and safety of the consumer, there are parts of this bill that could have a very negative impact on my operation, in particular the rules and regulations regarding the selling of greens. I have written about the impact of these regulations in earlier posts and I encourage you to educate yourself about this important legislation and the potential impact it could have on small farms like Inverbrook. For more information on the Senate Food Safety bill, please see National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's Talking Points.

Below I have included a letter from Brian Snyder executive director of The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, followed by a step by step action plan. My hope is that you will find the time to make yourself heard--the future of my greens depends on it.

Dear PASA-folk,

Okay, we knew this was coming and here it is, perhaps pushed ahead on the schedule by a delay in healthcare legislation. This summer we dealt with the House of Representatives on food safety and experienced some success. Now it’s the Senate’s turn.

This Wednesday the Senate HELP Committee (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) will begin active debate on S. 510, a bill that differs in many respects but shares the same basic objectives as HR. 2749, which passed the House at the end of July. Rather than go on at length about what needs to change in the current bill, please read the alert below my signature as sent out this morning by NSAC (the National Sustainable Ag Coalition), our partners in tracking this issue all year long.

As you can see, NSAC has identified Senator Casey as a key figure in this debate. Senator Casey is important not only as a member of HELP, but also by his participation on the Senate Ag Committee. In addition to the concerns listed below – and others you may have – I’d also like you to ask Senator Casey and/or his staff to confer with PASA on food safety matters before he participates in the HELP markup process next week.

For your information, I will be in Washington D.C. on Monday and Tuesday of next week and will be meeting with key people involved in this debate (hopefully including Senator Casey or his staff). The phone number and other relevant information can be found below.

Thanks again for your ever-present support at times like this…

Brian Snyder



The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will take up S. 510, the Senate version of major food safety legislation already approved by the House of Representatives, next Wednesday, November 18.

The bill would put real teeth into federal regulation of large-scale food processing corporations to better protect consumers. However, the bill as written is also a serious threat to family farm value added processing, local and regional food systems, conservation and wildlife protection, and organic farming.

We need a food safety bill that cracks down on corporate bad actors without erecting new barriers to the growing healthy food movement based on small and mid-sized family farms, sustainable and organic production methods, and more local and regional food sourcing.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the National Organic Coalition, have fashioned five common sense amendments to S 510. We need your help to make them happen! The House has already passed their Bill. This is our last best chance to affect the final legislation.

Step 1: Make a Call

Please Call Senator Casey's office at (202) 224-6324 and ask for the aide in charge of food safety issues. Tell them you are a constituent and are calling to ask the Senator to support the amendments proposed by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the National Organic Coalition to the Food Safety Modernization Act. Specifically, ask your Senator to support the following key changes to the bill:

The bill should direct FDA to narrow the kinds of value-added farm processing activities which are subject to FDA control and to base those regulations on sound risk analysis. (Current FDA rules assume without any scientific evidence that all farms which undertake any one of a long list of processing activities should be regulated.)

The bill should direct FDA to ease compliance for organic farmers by integrating the FDA standards with the organic certification rules. FDA compliance should not jeopardize a farmer's ability to be organically certified under USDA's National Organic Program.

The bill must provide small and mid-sized family farms that market value-added farm products with training and technical assistance in developing food safety plans for their farms.

The bill should insist that FDA food safety standards and guidance will not contradict federal conservation, environmental, and wildlife standards and practices, and not force the farmer to choose which federal agency to obey and which to reject.

Farmers who sell directly to consumers should not be required to keep records and be part of a federal "traceaback" system, and all other farms should not be required to maintain records electronically or any records beyond the first point of sale past the farmgate.

Step 2: Report Your Call
Let us know how your Senator responded by clicking here and typing in a brief report.

Step 3: Learn More (see link above to NSAC taking points)

No comments: