Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Very Bad Idea

I love the Farmer's Market. One of my favorite things to do on a weekend is drop by the market and bring home fresh ingredients for the evening meal - there's nothing better, except growing the food yourself! And, while this is not a political blog, it is a blog about my life and our farm. And I just discovered a bill that has the potential to catastrophically affect both.

HR 875 (Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009) is sponsored, evidently, by a representative whose husband has ties to Monsanto. Monsanto is a large biotechnology company that is heavily vested in the factory farm model. They're the guys who tried to patent pig breeding, and the guys who created "terminator" seeds whose plants don't produce viable seeds - the farmer has to keep going back to Monsanto to get more seeds each year. Not exactly friends of the small farmer, huh?

The bill is very broadly written and includes anyone who grows or produces food for human consumption. There is no exception for small farms, or even for backyard gardens. The fines are staggering (up to a million dollars for each incident?). If this bill passes, most of the folks I know will be unable to afford to grow produce or meat for the farmer's market or even for their own family's use without running afoul of the law.

The regulatory burdens of this bill are staggering, too. Food producers (and if you grow tomatoes in the summer, YOU are a food producer, according to this bill) are required to keep extensive records, to test soil (and keep the samples) and to follow government regulations regarding the type of fertilizer used, temperature controls, etc... fines for failure to comply can be up to one million dollars per incident.

And I don't believe that the law will be used only to deal with large corporations - if the state is given a power, the state has the potential to abuse that power. And, the thing is, we already have many of these regulations in place through the USDA and the FDA. Why create another level of bureaucracy when simply fully staffing these agencies with the appropriate number of inspectors would solve many of the current problems we've seen?

In a poor economy, the ability to grow one's own food could make a huge difference in one's standard of living. We can't let that right be taken from us, and we must look out for the small farmers who provide organic meat and produce at the local level. If you eat, this bill has the potential to affect you.

You can read more about the bill here: Campaign for Liberty and here: Open Congress HR 875. And, if the content of this bill alarms you at all, please consider writing your representatives to tell them how you feel. Help us save the Farmer's Market! Thank you to Dunappaloosa at Small Farm Living for bringing this to my attention.

9 comments:

Donnell said...

Thanks for posting this! I've also posted on a different blog than the one I commonly mention here (linked from my name). I detect a kindred spirit. Again, thanks.

Daisy said...

I enjoy our local farmer's market. Thanks for this information, Terri.

andrea said...

oh man - that is scary ...

thanks for the information piece - it's so important to know about this stuff happening around the world ...

Susie said...

Thanks for letting us know about this Terri. I haven't heard of it so I will have to read about it.

TC said...

I doubt the bill will make it to the floor of the Senate, however, it's good be informed and concerned about such things. PA didn't stand for the USDA milk labeling fiasco here a couple of years back, due in large part to negative reaction and complaints from consumers. In a state with agriculture as it's no. 1 industry, we don't put up with ignorant bills such as HR 875.

DayPhoto said...

This is horrible! I, for one, did not know this! I will do as you suggest and I will pass the word!

Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

Terri said...

Donnell, I love your second blog - lots of good information there on homeschooling and such! :)

Daisy, I'd hate to see the Farmer's Market go away!

Andrea, yes, I think we have to stay aware, don't we?

Susie, please do read about it. I wouldn't be so concerned if there was an exemption for small producers, or nackyard growers, but at the moment there doesn't seem to be.

TC I am sure (and I hope!!) that you are right - Tennessee is heavily agricultural, too - we can't afford this nonsense!

Linda, thanks for looking into it!

Terri

Amy said...

Good grief--first it was that bill about handmade things and now this! Do they want this economy to turn around? Sorry, I got a little excited! Thanks for the info!

Dana said...

ekkkk! Thanks for the info!