S. 510 Food "Safety" Bill

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Last November a Senate committee unanimously approved a S. 510, which claimed to be a “food safety”.

Seven months later the bill still hasn’t reached the Senate floor. Why? The bill is less about making the food supply safe, and more about increasing government restrictions and regulations. Moreover, the bill would likely bankrupt small farms, family farms, and could even make your local farmer’s market all but illegal.

It’s possible that Sen. Reid won’t bring S.510 to the floor at all this year. It’s also possible that the Senate will debate the bill sometime in the coming weeks, so now is the time to let your Senators know how you feel.

One constituent provided us with this letter (which you are free to use):

In general, I oppose federal “safety” regulations. Our food supply would be safer if the free market and the states supplied the regulations.

  • Private trade associations and certification boards will compete to win consumer confidence in the safety and reliability of their products
  • Firms that sell liability insurance would have flexible, site-specific safety requirements instead of one-size-fits-all regulations
  • Consumers would be more likely to purchase from local growers and sellers that they know and trust
  • States could learn from each other the most effective government regulations, if any are needed

In principle, then, I believe you should oppose S.510 and work to repeal most of the federal laws and regulations on the books.

I also demand that you make the bill “less bad” by insisting on the inclusion of Sen. Tester’s amendments. These amendments would exempt

  • Producers that add value to food through processing and whose adjusted gross income is less than $500,000 per year;
  • Producers who sell their food directly to market (such as farmers’ markets).

Please support other amendments that would make the bill less burdensome for farmers and small processors. There will never be a 100% guarantee that all food will always be safe, but

  • recent food-borne illness outbreaks have not been caused by family farms and other small businesses
  • if outbreaks were to occur, the number of victims will be small and the effects will be localized

In contrast, excessive fees and regulations could wipe out many small farms and businesses. This would make our food LESS safe because no amount of regulation or inspection will prevent every outbreak, and outbreaks in the corporate food chain will have far more victims and more widespread effects.

We do not need more federal regulation. We would be safer if we had more freedom.

(We have not received a letter which represents the other side of this debate, but are not opposed to posting one should it be received from a precinct member.)

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