By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat
When I addressed S3767 last week, a bill that would jail people for ten years just for selling food the government labeled misbranded or adulterated—I felt like I lived in the Soviet Union, not the United States of America.
I still live in the United States of America. An outpouring of protest convinced the Senate Judiciary Committee to heavily modify the bill so it only applied to those who knowingly acted with a conscious disregard of a risk of death or serious bodily injury. This is a huge change and a significant victory. My heartfelt thanks to all of you who contacted your senators and made the difference.
Now it is likely that Big Agriculture will once again try this week to pass S510, the so called “Food Safety” bill. Actually, S510 will give us food slavery, not food safety.
S510 will force the imposition of an extremely burdensome system THAT HAS ALREADY FAILED on small farmers, farmers’ markets, anybody who sells or distributes food, and may drive most of them out of business, while leaving the real cause of the food safety problem—the huge companies who dominate the food industry—untouched.
Our food will be no safer, but thousands of small farmers and food businesses will be driven out of business, and the big companies will have even more control over our food. Which is exactly why the big food companies support this oppressive bill.
Small Farmers Are Not the Problem
All of the reported food illness outbreaks have come from large processing facilities or factory farms, or from pollution caused by waste created by these farms. These industrial operations value profit above all else, and concentrate on producing their products as cheaply as possible, on an assembly line basis, using a huge number of chemicals and processes to extend the shelf life of their products.
Small farms, farmers’ markets, and ranchers who sell directly to the consumer know that their business depends on the quality of their products and their relationship with their customers, and do a wonderful job of producing safe, high quality food.
But S510 treats the smallest family farm the same as the largest factory farm. If S510 passes, the small farmers will be punished and destroyed for the crimes of the industrial farming system, which will benefit from less competition.
All food safety legislation should target only the cause of the problem—industrial agriculture.
Don’t ruin what works. Leave the small farmers alone!
Paperwork Does Not Make Food Safe—HAACP Has Already Failed
The only real opponents of food safety are those who make money by cutting corners to increase profits. But S510 will not help. Forcing extensive paperwork, reports, and regulations on every food producer or seller will not make food any safer. S510 is built around HARCP, which requires a mountain of plans and paperwork, and has regulators review the paperwork instead of visiting and inspecting the places where the food is actually processed. HARCP is essentially the same as HAACP, a system that has already failed. HARCP is ideal for big companies, who hire specialists to fill out the plans and paperwork in accordance with thousands of pages of regulations. No small farmer has the capacity to do this, but the bill treats them the same as the biggest company.
The HAACP system was introduced in the United States by the Clinton administration, in response to meat safety concerns. Big corporations loved it, because it did away with actual inspections of their huge facilities. HAACP was supposed to make meat safe. The results? Meat food safety is worse than ever!
But huge numbers of the small meat processing plants in the United States have been driven out of business, because it was too difficult and expensive for them to comply with HAACP. Former plant owners have written about how the government harassed them, constantly rejecting their paperwork and plans, forcing them to spend hundreds of hours and huge amounts of money in trying to satisfy the HAACP documentation requirements, until they just went out of business. Now 90% of the meat processing in this country is controlled by four corporations.
There is a terrible shortage of small plants, and many grassfed ranchers find it very difficult to find a processor for their meat.
If S510 passes, HARCP will do to the small farmer what HAACP did to the small processing plants.
We can be almost certain that the government will end raw milk forever—simply by refusing to accept paperwork from anyone who produces raw milk, by always finding flaws with the paperwork.
We can expect to see most small farmers, sustainable farmers, and organic farmers driven out of business, and we may lose all our food choices, soon having nothing but factory food available. Instead of being able to choose our food, we will be slaves to the big companies who will have total control of what food is available. Rather than small farmers working their own land, producing high quality food, and making a decent living, we will have nothing but large factory farms and CAFOs paying slave wages to raise factory food as cheaply as possible.
S510 Will Enable the FDA to Destroy Real Produce
S510 will give the FDA, an organization totally devoted to industrial farming, GMOs, and supporting big agriculture, total and complete control over how crops are raised and stored.
This would allow the FDA to impose its factory food standards on all produce, spraying and radiating everything.
The FDA could force the spraying of all produce, even dictating the pesticides to be used, and how much. The FDA could force all produce to be irradiated. The FDA could force all farmers to use the products sold by large agricultural companies. The FDA could even ban all non-GMO produce. The bill gives practically unlimited power over produce to the FDA, making all farmers slaves to the FDA and its friends in the large corporations.
If you think the FDA would act fairly, think again. The FDA has even filed court documents claiming that we have no right to choose our own food, and can only eat the food the government allows us to eat.
What We Can Do
I ask each of you to contact your senators, and ask them to stop and reject S510.
Ask them to insist that small farmers, small processors, and farmers’ markets be completely exempt from all provisions of S510, as a minimum.
Ask your senators not to allow the agricultural industry to use food safety as an opportunity to destroy the business of the small farmers, small processors, and sustainable farmers.
If enough of us do this, we can have an impact—especially with the election coming up. We changed S3767, and we can do the same with S510.
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