November 12, 2009
Tell the Senator HELP Committee: Food Safety Bill Must Protect Sustainable and Organic Family FarmsThe Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension (HELP) Committee will take up the Senate’s version of major food safety legislation (S. 510) on Wednesday, November 18th, 2009. While this bill would strengthen the safety of the food supply, it also contains several provisions that could seriously harm small scale and organic farmers, local and regional food systems, and conservation and wildlife habitat. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and the National Organic Coalition (NOC) have put forth a set of proposed amendments to address some of these concerns. Your Senators may sit on the Senate HELP Committee. Please contact them TODAY and ask them to support the amendments to S. 510 proposed by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the National Organic Coalition. Specific talking points and Senate HELP Committee members and their contact info are below.
Specific Talking Points
- The bill should 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 narrow the kinds of farm activities subject to FDA control and to base any regulation of farms on sound risk analysis. (Current FDA rules assume, without specific scientific evidence or risk analysis, that all farms which undertake any one of a long list of processing, labeling or packaging activities should be regulated.)
- The bill should integrate 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 should require that FDA food safety standards and guidance will not contradict federal conservation, environmental, and wildlife standards and practices. Farmer should not have to choose which federal agency to obey and which to reject.
- Farmers who sell directly to consumers should not be required to keep extra records and be part of a federal “traceback” system. All other farms should not be required to maintain records electronically or records beyond the first point of sale.
Senate HELP Committee Contact Info
Senator Phone Fax
Tom Harkin (IA) 202-224-3254 No fax
Chris Dodd (CT) 202-224-2823 202-224-1083
Barbara Mikulski (MD) 202-224-4654 202-224-8858
Jeff Bingaman (NM) 202-224-5521 No fax
Patty Murray (WA) 202-224-2621 202-224-0238
Jack Reed (RI) 202-224-4642 202-224-4680
Bernie Sanders (VT) 202-224-5141 202-228-0776
Sherrod Brown (OH) 202-224-2315 202-228-6321
Bob Casey (PA) 202-224-6324 202-228-0604
Kay Hagan (NC) 202-224-6342 202-228-2563
Jeff Merkley (OR) 202-224-3753 202-228-3997
Al Franken (MN) 202-224-5641 No fax
Michael Bennet (CO) 202-224-5852 202-228-5036
Senator Phone Fax
Mike Enzi (WY) 202-224-3424 202-228-0359
Judd Gregg (NH) 202-224-3324 No fax
Lamar Alexander (TN) 202-224-4944 202-228-3398
Richard Burr (NC) 202-224-3154 202-228-2981
Johnny Isakson (GA) 202-224-3643 202-228-0724
Orrin Hatch (UT) 202-224-5251 202-224-6331
Pat Roberts (KS) 202-224-4774 202-224-3514
Tom Coburn (OK) 202-224-5754 202-224-6008
Lisa Murkowski (AK) 202-224-6665 202-224-5301
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee will mark up S. 510, the Senate version of major food safety legislation next Wednesday, November 18. The House of Representatives passed similar legislation, HR 2749, last July. Both bills focus on foods regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, not meat and poultry which is regulated by USDA.
S. 510 includes several key reforms that would put real teeth into federal regulation of large-scale food processing corporations to better protect consumers. However, the bill as written could also do serious harm to organic and family farming, local and regional food systems, and conservation and wildlife protection. The good news is the HELP committee can fix those problems with the adoption of some common sense provisions.
The proposed amendments from NSAC and NOC would retain the crack-down on corporate bad actors without erecting dangerous new barriers to the growing healthy food movement. Safer food systems have small and mid-sized family farms, sustainable and organic production methods, and more local and regional food sourcing.