Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Make the Call: Small Organic Farms in Peril
One thing I know for sure: Small, organic, family-owned farms are not the cause of the problems in our food system. But a sweeping overhaul of federal the food safety law called HR 2749 may lump these small farmers in with the practices of the large industrial agricultural businesses that have caused outbreaks of e. coli, melamine contamination and salmonella, just to name a few.
This bill, if it passes in its current form, would cost small farmers an annual registration fee of $500 and impose a blanket application of complicated monitoring and traceability standards—regardless of the farm's size. This would imperil farms that are already struggling on thin margins as it is.
The Cornucopia Institute, which supports ecologically produced local, organic food, has issued an action alert stating that "there's no doubt that industrial agriculture needs better oversight. But, family-scale local and organic farms are probably the safest in the nation—they are part of the solution, not part of the problem—and need to be protected."
Senator Tester (D-MT), a certified organic farmer, is proposing an amendment to S. 510 (the Senate version of the House bill) that would exempt small-scale farmers and food processors from the most burdensome regulations.
Please consider calling Sen. Merkley (Portland 503-326-3386; Wash., DC 202-224-3753) and Sen. Wyden (Portland 503-326-7525; Wash., DC 202-224-5244) and tell them to support Sen. Tester's amendment. Talking points are available on the Cornucopia Institute alert page. If you live outside of Oregon and want to call your senators, you can look them up online or call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.
Believe it or not, your calls will make a difference, not only in terms of the legislation that is passed but in the lives of the families that are producing our food.
Photo of seed harvesting at Gathering Together Farm in Philomath by
Posted by Kathleen Bauer at 2:45 PM