There has been a huge amount of panic on the internet in recent weeks regarding food safety legislation, spurred on by unfounded fears that one of the food safety bills introduced in Congress (H.R. 875) will threaten small family farmers, end organic farming and even criminalize backyard gardeners. The frenzy is grossly exaggerated and rooted in misinformation. While H.R. 875 is not perfect, it is certainly not intended to wipe out organic farming or local food. And with H.R. 875 getting the brunt of negative attacks, food safety bills that are less friendly to small farmers and diverse modes of production, such as H.R. 759 and H.R. 1332, are gaining traction in congress.
As with most legislation, these food safety bills are intended to provide a general framework. The fine points will be added once a bill has passed through the halls of congress and is translated into rules at the agency level. As the saying goes: “the devil is in the details.” It is with these details that Farm Aid and our partner groups will engage to ensure that any new regulations in food safety reflect and support the diversity of farms and processing facilities that contribute to a vibrant, sustainable and safe food system in America.
As always, we’ll be sure to keep you updated with any opportunities for action. We’ll also be providing a more extensive look into America’s broken food safety system in our April newsletter. In the meantime, if you receive a frantic email about H.R. 875, please don’t forward on the frenzy. Instead, point your friends and family to this great fact sheet from Food & Water Watch or to this food safety update by Farm Aid funded-group Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.