HR 875 - The Death of Farmers Markets, CSAs and Local Food

HR 875, also known as the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, was introduced by Rosa Delauro - a democratic party member of the United States House of Representatives from Connecticut - in February of 2009. The title of HR 875, The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, sounds innocuous enough - even comforting, but its implications yield a much, much different story.

HR 875 as it is written today, could very well mean the end of the vibrant and growing local foods movement. Yes - if it passes - it could herald the death of farmers markets, most CSAs, farmstands and even small family-run farms altogether.

Ostensibly, HR 875 or the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 would bring greater accountability to our imperiled food system. Indeed, with salmonella-infected peanuts and spinach laced with e-coli, who isn’t crying out for improvements in food safety?

However, HR 875 fails miserably in promoting food safety. Rather, than promoting true accountability and proper farming techniques that minimize the risk of introducing pathogens into the food supply, it simply will create greater barriers for our already struggling small farms and farmers markets.

HR 875 mandates that anyone who produces food of any kind - meat, milk, fruit, vegetables et cetera - and transports that food for sale be subject to warrantless government inspections of their farms and food production records. These random inspections can be conducted at the whim of federal agents without regard to farmers rights or property rights. Further, the law would allow federal agents to confiscate records, product as they see fit as part of the inspection process.

Agents could also implement draconian restrictions regarding how farm animals can be fed, how fields can be managed and the end result of these restrictions could mean the end of organic, biodynamic and sustainable agriculture practices if these practices are deemed “unsafe.” Farmers refusing to comply would be subject to penalties.

The penalty for denying federal agents unlimited, random access to a farm’s fields, properties, products and records is up to $1,000,000. The penalty for not registering is up to$1,000,000.

Remember, this law would affect every farmer or food producer who must transport his goods to sell them - in effect, every single farmer. That means that an orchard that sells fresh fruit at a roadside stand would be affected; a farmer who delivers CSA boxes would be affected, even a home gardener who brings excess harvest to a farmers market’s community booth would have to register or be subject to $1,000,000 fines and that garden plot would be subject to inspection by federal agents. Ridiculous, isn’t it? But it’s true.

HR 875 is such a massive bill, with such massive requirements and restrictions that, in effect, only huge agribusinesses would be able to effectively meet all its requirements. The small family farm would be history and, along with it, farmstands, farmers markets, most food cooperatives and CSAs.

Now, let’s get back to Rosa Delauro who introduced HR 875 in February. Ms. Delaura is married to Stanley Greenberg. Stanley Greenberg is a political consultant whose clients have included Monsanto–Monsanto, the same corporation, who blessed us with RBGH and genetically engineered seeds. Should we really trust Ms. Delauro or her husband to make these kinds of decisions for the American people?

My husband and I run a farmers market - a vibrant and growing farmers market in the heart of ski country. Now, it’s taken our blood, sweat and tears (and I do mean real blood, real sweat and real tears) to make our market succeed. Were this bill to pass, it would mean the end of our market as our farmers - some of whom grow on as little as a single acre - would be forced to close their gates. It would also mean the end of our local CSAs - all of which are delivered from the farm after a winding trip through the mountains.

The bill has not passed yet, so you still have time to act. Remember, eating is now a political act so exercise your rights.

Act now:

* Read the full bill here: HR 875 - Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009.
* Contact your representative and inform them you oppose HR 875.
* Tweet this post and spread the word about HR 875.
* Stumble this post and spread the word about HR 875.
* Blog about your opposition to HR 875.
* Contact your representative AGAIN and make sure the message gets through.

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