Last year in 2010, the Senate passed the Food Safety Modernization Act SB 510. The bill bounced back to the 111th Congress and was renamed and wrapped up in the Military Construction and Veterans Affair and Related Agencies Appropriations Act H.R. 3082. It was passed in short order and funded by $3.8 Billion!
How Will the Food Safety Modernization Act Affect Small Farmers and Homesteaders?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be watching, under the power of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to make sure that the government prevents anyone from ingesting high risk foods. Sounds okay right? But what is a high risk food and who decides what’s on the list? If you are a producer or seller of any food that’s labeled as high risk, you will have to keep detailed records which will be required to be handed over to the government or suffer penalties.
I have no problem with there being rules and regulations to ensure that there is proper hygiene at food production facilities. I read Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” back in school. You won’t get an argument from me on the need for oversight of meat processing. But what if the high risk list includes items that we as self sufficient folks take for granted? Will this impact anyone that sells their excess eggs to co-workers? We only run a few laying hens that meet our egg needs. But I have friends that sell their excess eggs. This could directly impact them.
Another likely target would be unpasteurized milk and dairy products. Growing up, we had friends that were dairy farmers. Those boys grew up on raw whole milk. They would gladly sell friends raw milk. But with this act the production and selling of raw milk without the proper documentation would put you on the wrong side of the law.
With the Federal agencies involved, will we see armed raids on local farmers? We have already seen this sort of behavior even before the Food Safety Modernization Act had been passed. On June 30, 2010, Federal, State and Local law enforcement officers raided Rawesome Foods, a food co-op, in Venice, CA. Four of the officers moved through the store with guns drawn. Their goal was to confiscate contraband unpasteurized milk, yogurt and cheese. If there was ever an unneeded show of force, raiding an unsuspecting food co-op with guns drawn probably takes the cake. To make matters worse, there is no doubt that the patrons of Rawesome Foods were fully aware what they were buying. In fact, that’s the whole point of Rawesome Foods. The people wanted organic unprocessed foods, but the government has decided that they have the power to restrict what we can knowingly choose to ingest. Here’s a clip after the raid:
So what can we do, now that the bill has passed?
You can help support the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund. Visit their website at http://farmtoconsumer.org and find out more about their efforts to protect our food rights.
You can also call, mail and email your congressman and ask them to withhold funding for the agencies involved. The switchboard for both the House of Representatives and the Senate is 202-224-3121. The operator will put you in touch directly to your respective Senator or Congressional office.