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HR 2749 Will be Voted on Again Today

“We Need to Act Quickly Against This Bill”

by Guest contributor, Robert Waldrop, President Oklahoma Food Cooperative

This is a link to the action of the House Rules Committee on HR 2749 today –From this link you can click on a link to the amended bill.

I read the entire thing.  (I had to put on some relaxing music so I could get through it.)

I don’t find the “summary” on the page linked above to be entirely accurate.  The last sentence says –“In the fresh produce section of the bill, it is clarified that the FDA should issue standards only for the riskiest types of products.”

I didn’t find anything that actually said that in the actual text.  There’s some fluff about consulting with the Sec of Ag and taking into account the impact on small farmers yadda yadda yadda but I didn’t see anything that would prevent the FDA from issuing detailed regs to farmers about their vegetable production practices.

Another problem with the summary — “For instance, the substitute amendment provides that farms, including those that process food and feed that they sell to other farms or primarily directly to consumers, do not have to register or pay. ”

This is sort of true and sort of not true.  If a farm sells to both individuals and into some sort of regular commercial marketplace, the value of the sales of individuals must be greater than the value of its other sales for the farm to be exempt.  Also, “farm to school” sales are NOT exempt, so this will be a burden for farmers participating in farm to school programs.

I also didn’t really see anything that exempts artisan producers.  Maybe some that only do direct sales, but once they branch out from that, they come under the full impact of the regulations, and the fines for non-compliance are very large, starting at $20K and going up from there, and every “day” of the violation is a separate offense.  I can see people looking at that risk (plus the criminal penalties, which start at 10 years in jail) and deciding to just close up shop.

They did take out the bizarre provision of the original bill that would allow meat packers to use carbon monoxide to preserve the red color of the meat. .

I intend to continue to oppose this bill and encourage others to do likewise.  It’s obvious that this is an attempted major power grab of authority over the growing of vegetables, and the last minute exemptions the Rules Committee threw in are only a fig leaf attempt to give up the least amount possible so they can maybe get this passed.

Once the camels nose of regulation of vegetable production is in the tent, the rest of the animal will not be far behind.  The attitude of the government towards farming for 50 years has been “get big or get out”, and I think this is the latest incarnation of that program. For some, it may be the last straw and they will just give up.

According to the “Daily Leader”, HR 2749 will come up for a vote again today, Thursday, July 30th, probably early afternoon.  It’s not clear to me from the Rules committee page whether the new version will require a 2/3rds vote or not.

We need to act quickly against this bill.

Here is a link to the roll call for HR 2749,  please copy and past this link into your web browser to see how your Congressman voted yesterday.

http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2009/roll657.xml

The Oklahoma Food Cooperative is one of the largest in the U.S.  Launched in 2003 with 60 members, they have currently 2300 members who support 114 small farms and artisans such as crafters, soap makers, with their purchasing power.  The Oklahoma Cooperative has generously shared their software with others around the nation, and has been instrumental in launching 11 operating local food cooperatives such as the ones in North Texas, Nebraska, among others. Two or more cooperatives based on their model are organizing now.

Bob Waldrop is a 4th generation Oklahoma whose great grandparents homesteaded in Oklahoma Territory before statehood.  He is the founder and president of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, the founder of the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House, one of the founders and a member of the first Board of Directors of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network.  He works as the director of music and organist at Epiphany Catholic Church. He lives in central Oklahoma City, on a 1/7th acre lot, where he grows more than 100 different varieites of edible and useful plants, 2/3 of which are perennials.  He holds a certificate in permaculture design from Barking Frogs Permaculture of Florida.

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Comments

  1. Kimberly Hartke says:

    Here is the link to the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund Action Alert. You can sign a petition here:

    http://www.farmtoconsumer.org/aa/aa-30july2009.html

  2. Kimberly Hartke says:

    Here is the URL to Robert’s analysis of Rep. Dingell’s “Dear Colleague” letter supporting HR 2749. This document is available as a PDF at
    http://www.oklahomafood.coop/pdf/dingellresponse.pdf

  3. Kimberly Hartke says:

    Look what just came to me by email, the vote is near. The debate is on CSPAN.

    http://www.free-press-release.com/news/200907/1248838616.html

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