Small, sustainable, and organic farmers in North Carolina are taking their fight against the pending food safety bill to the farmers market. In an action alert last week, the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) urged farmers to share their concerns about the legislation, which they believe is a threat to the burgeoning local food movement, to farmers market shoppers across the state.

The FDA Food Safety Modernization act, or S. 510, would expand the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) authority to access records and recall contaminated food, and it requires all food facilities to implement a food safety plan. The House passed its version of the bill in July. The Senate version has been stalled behind health care reform, but many expect the upper chamber to take up the bill after Easter recess, the week of April 12th.

“Congress needs to hear from our communities that federal food safety legislation must protect healthy local food,” wrote Roland McReynolds, CFSA’s executive director in the email action alert. “To mobilize consumer support, we have organized a week of grassroots action at farmers markets across NC.”

Farmers markets and vendors will be sharing information and handouts on CFSA’s stance on the legislation at markets across North Carolina from April 3 to April 10.
The goal of the campaign is to “create a flood of calls asking NC’s US Senate delegation to support of specific changes to the bill that will protect farms and local food producers from devastating FDA regulation” before the Senate comes back from recess.

CFSA is advocating for the following changes:

-Establish USDA training programs for small farms and food entrepreneurs.  The Senate should include S 2758, the Growing Safe Food Act, in S 510, and fund programs to get critical food safety information into the hands of small food producers.

-Eliminate “pointless” traceability rules for farmer-marketed products.  Foods sold by farmers directly to consumers, restaurants and retailers should be exempt from bar-coding or other schemes.

-Focus on real animal risks, not wildlife and farm dogs.  FDA should use proven science to identify animal sources of pathogens and appropriate controls, instead of the current approach of treating all animals on farms as a food safety threat.


Recent Food Safety News coverage of small farmer opposition to S.510:

Libertarian Farmers Lobby Against S.510 March 13, 2010

Should Small, Sustainble Farmers Fear S.510? February 24, 2010

NSAC Outlines Approach for Amending S.510 February 19, 2010

Another Call to Add Help for Farmers to S.510 February 1, 2010