Garden, Plant, Cook!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Green Politics - the new farm bill.

Dear Folks,

If you have not heard of US House Bill 875, you should look into this proposed legislation. As with all bills this one is long and laborious reading. However well-meaning any bill to increase food safety in our country is, this one is not it. I do try to stay neural on political stuff, keeping my focus on the importance of gardening and cooking with our families, but occasionally something like this bill comes up and I feel the need to let folks know about it and make their choices on the issue.

Many organizations are seriously concerned about:

1) who and why this is being sponsored (the initial sponsor's husband is associated with Monsanto), Arizona's own Representative Raul M. Grijalva (D) for Arizona's 7th Congressional District ( is a co-sponsor (If you live in his district by all means contact him).

2) the provisions which may create unrealistic registration and oversight for backyard farmers, small farmers and organic farmers — under the worst case scenario overenthusiastic enforcement could put farmers markets out of existence.

3) the possible "requirement" to use chemicals.

I have pulled several (there are more) sections of the bill for you to read for yourself, and this link will take you to the government's page on it where you can read the full text.

While some provisions by themselves may not be of concern, when read in conjunction with others it is alarming.

(14) FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITY- The term ‘food production facility' means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation.

[External Note by Catherine: The act wording includes the full ability to 'inspect' any 'food production facility' but then conflicts with exclusions - the lack of clarity makes it appear that registration and inspection of any of the listed food production facility entities can be required to register and be inspected at will and then to be subject to various penalties under the law including criminal acts.]

(19) PROCESS- The term ‘process' or ‘processing' means the commercial slaughter, packing, preparation, or manufacture of food.

(a)In General- Any food establishment or foreign food establishment engaged in manufacturing, processing, packing, or holding food for consumption in the United States shall register annually with the Administrator.

(3) for a food establishment or foreign food establishment to fail to register under section 202, or to operate without a valid registration;

(b) Purposes- The purposes of this Act are--
(4) to establish that food establishments have responsibility to ensure that all stages of production, processing, and distribution of their products or products under their control satisfy the requirements of this law.

(8) CATEGORY 4 FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The term ‘category 4 food establishment' means a food establishment that processes all other categories of food products not described in paragraphs (5) through (7).

9) CATEGORY 5 FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The term ‘category 5 food establishment' means a food establishment that stores, holds, or transports food products prior to delivery for retail sale.

I promise my next blog will be back on subject!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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