Concerned by the sudden rush to pass the Food Safety bill (HR 2749), Rocky Mountain Farmers Union President Kent Peppler sent a message to the congressional delegation from Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming: “Now just a dang minute!”
Although the bill was improved by amendments before reaching the House floor, it is still, as Peppler testified in Washington last week, potentially devastating for small farmers and ranchers.
The letter points out that “The bill treats the family who cans their neighbors’ peaches in Montrose as if they posed the same food safety risk as a corporate dogfood maker importing melamine-laced wheat gluten from China. That,” Peppler concludes, “is ridiculous.”
As written, the bill simply taxes the small farmer to subsidize corporate agriculture. A farm family that cans their neighbor’s peaches will be required to create a plan for ‘scientific’ maintenance of food safety and pay a $500 annual fee to cover inspection costs. “That family, making $5,000/year of supplemental income by canning peaches, will pay a fee of $500 to cover FDA ‘inspections.’ That $500 fee will also ‘cover’ inspections of plants turning out a hundred tons of canned beans a day. Does anyone seriously believe that it will cost $500 to inspect a family farm? Or that $500 will even begin to cover the cost of inspecting that industrial plant?”
“Set aside the attack on the slim profits of organic and natural food growers and local producers with small, diversified operations,” Peppler commented. “On top of that, the bill allows the FDA to require food growers to follow ‘scientific’ methods. Agriculture has spent half a century trying to get out from under the monoculture, petroleum-guzzling ‘science’ forced on us by corporate monopolies. No thanks.”
The letter to the congressional delegation concludes, “The very companies that created the problem, a problem the farmer and the consumer have been demanding solutions to for more than a century, will be coddled, subsidized, and given yet another advantage over the local, sustainable, natural food competing with them in the marketplace.”
“We need to hit the switchboards in Washington and get Congress to give this bill a closer look,” Peppler said.