I am concerned about laws with vague language aimed at food producers. It would be tragic if local food producers such as Will Allen were regulated out of business. As with most government regulation, the food regulation laws have the potential to harm small businesses, while large businesses will be able to get their people on regulatory boards, bribe regulators, and so forth. Here's the text of a letter I sent to a local Congressman:
March 7, 2009
Mr. Henry Cuellar
336 Cannon HOB
Washington DC 20515
RE: HR 875 – The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009
Dear Congressman Cuellar,
I live in San Antonio, and have a country home in eastern Caldwell County. Thus, I barely miss being one of your constituents. However, I communicate on a regular basis with your constituents, some of whom are my clients, some of whom sell me goods and services.
I am writing to you today, because you are a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, to which HR 875 has been referred. While government regulation of industrial scale agricultural producers and food processors may be a good thing, we do not need regulation of small farmers who sell their produce locally. In fact, this law as written could put small farmers and farmer’s markets out of business and destroy a source of food at a time when many food producing regions of the world are experiencing severe drought and food shortage is of real concern.
The bill as written is so broad that it could even be applied to backyard gardeners, and the definition of contaminant is so vague that the law could end up making organic farming illegal, since organic produce sometimes contains insects.
This is NOT the time to put small farmers out of business! Please consider the implications of the bill as written, and insist on amending it to exempt small farmers who sell their produce locally.