What will happen to farmers' markets and organic farms?
By Jennifer Lance
As spring is in the air (when the north wind does not blow), I have begun longing for the good times my children and I have at the local farmers' market and contemplating our participation as vendors this year. I can't tell you how much we look forward to our weekly adventures at the farmers' market, and how excited we are if we happen to visit a neighboring town on the day of their market; however, that could all change.
H.R. 875: Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 could end farmers' markets as we know it by requiring growers to register, be subject to inspections of their gardens by federal agents, and maintain safety records related to food production or face large fines.
The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 reminds of the Consumer Product Safety Information Act (CPSIA) in the sense that is responding to recalls (salmonella in peanut butter/lead in toys) that needs addressing; however, the people responsible for providing consumers with safe products are inadvertently targeted. I feel much safer knowing the people and gardens my food comes from rather than some multinational food corporation providing produce in the supermarket.
Under H.R. 875, all participants in farmers' markets will be forced to register, otherwise the market will be shut down as an illegal operation. Failure to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 would result in a fine of up to $1,000,000 per violation. Specifically, the law would apply to any food establishment, including farmers' markets, defined as:
(A) IN GENERAL- The term 'food establishment' means a slaughterhouse (except those regulated under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act), factory, warehouse, or facility owned or operated by a person located in any State that processes food or a facility that holds, stores, or transports food or food ingredients.
Just like small family handmade toy companies can't afford the requirements under CPSIA, the extra requirements and inspections required of small family farms under the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 would be a burden. I believe this bill is well intentioned; however, some critics have gone so far as to say the bill criminalizes organic farming. Ironically, or not so ironically, the bill was introduced by Rosa DeLauro whose husband Stanley Greenburg works for Monsanto. OpEdNews explains why this is Monsanto's dream bill:
The bill is monstrous on level after level - the power it would give to Monsanto, the criminalization of seed banking, the prison terms and confiscatory fines for farmers, the 24 hours GPS tracking of their animals, the easements on their property to allow for warrantless government entry, the stripping away of their property rights, the imposition by the filthy, greedy industrial side of anti-farming international "industrial" standards to independent farms - the only part of our food system that still works, the planned elimination of farmers through all these means.
The full text of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 reveals its well intentions, like protecting us from food grown abroad, and its favoritism towards agribusiness. While Ron Paul is trying to give consumers choice by legalizing interstate raw milk sales, other members of Congress are trying to outlaw small organic farms. We need to stand up for our local family farms!