The Senate will soon vote on S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. It’s a well-meaning attempt to address the worst problems in U.S. agriculture, but as it stands the bill threatens to undermine the best things – small farmers producing for local markets.
Senator Jon Tester of Montana is offering amendments to ensure that food safety rules don't put family farmers out of business.
We need your help to gain support for these crucial amendments.
All of the well-publicized incidents of contamination in recent years – whether in spinach, peppers, eggs or peanuts – occurred in industrialized food supply chains that span national and even international boundaries. The food safety problems in this system can and should be addressed without harming the local farmers that provide an alternative for consumers.
Let your senators know that you support a strong food safety bill that doesn't harm local farmers. (You can add a personal statement to the following letter, if you'd like.)
UPDATE (9/23/10): Over the last several months, Senator Tester has been negotiating the terms of the proposed amendments with bill sponsors and consumer groups. Together they created a new version of the amendment, which is more complicated than the original but protects small farmers without creating a potential loophole for Big Ag.
The bill and the revised amendments could be introduced and put to a vote on the Senate floor any moment. In addition to this petition, we are asking that you call your Senators to ask that they vote for the Tester amendment to S. 510 when it reaches the full Senate. You can call the capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or find your Senators' phone numbers at http://www.congress.org/congressorg/directory/congdir.tt
2ND UPDATE (11-29-10): After floor debate and another hault to the bill for the Thanksgiving Recess, the Senate will be taking up consideration of the bill again tonight. Your signatures and calls have made a difference. In a big victory the Tester-Hagan amendments are now in the Manager's Package of amendments to the bill and won't have to face a separate vote. Also, we are seeing new Senators testify in favor of an amended S. 510. Please keep up those calls and invite your friends to sign this petition. We need to pass this bill with the amendments we've been fighting for!
We need to pass S. 510 to ensure that there is accountability and traceability in the industrial food system with its long, convoluted supply chains. Yet we also need to amend the current bill to exempt small farmers who sell directly to customers at farmers markets, roadside stands, and CSA programs.
I urge you to support Senator Tester's amendments and pass an amended version of S. 510 so that our food system is safer, industrial agriculture companies are held accountable, small family farms are not put out of business, and consumers can still choose the safest, healthiest food possible.
Thank you very much for your support.