Wednesday March 10th was the annual “Food and Farmers Lobby Day” at the Dirkson Senate building in Washington D.C.- A day where local farmers, spokespersons, and consumers met with congressmen and senators to discuss some important bills that could potentially have major impact on small farms.
Liz Reitzig, the Secretary of the National Independent Consumers and Farmers Association, was the main spokesperson in the meetings addressing the Maryland Senate aides. The main bill being discussed is Bill S.510, the “FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.”
Reitzig stated: “Although food safety is a concern for everyone, the issue with the S.510 bill is that it will have the unintended destructive consequence of eliminating small farms and consumer access to local food- be it farmer’s markets, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), or farm to table restaurants. The main threats to food safety, by the government’s own admission, are centralized production, centralized processing, and long distance transportation. The food safety bills will increase these risk factors by further consolidating agriculture into fewer, larger industrial farms by placing enormous regulatory burdens that small farms cannot endure- therefore potentially forcing them to shut down (and increasing more industrial farming). Small farms and farmer’s markets are an important economic engine, environmental safeguard, and national security asset. There is not a history of food borne illness from farmers’ markets or small farms. “
There are over 10,500 small farms just in the state of Maryland alone that could be at risk of having to shut down if this bill is passed.
David Smith, of Springfield Farm, was on hand to state his own example. One of the oldest farms in the nation, Springfield Farm has an illustrious history of being in his family since the 1600’s. The current bill would actually put his farm at risk of having to close down. Spike Gjerde, Chef Owner of the esteemed Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore, whose menu is made up of ingredients from local sustainable agriculture and farms (including Springfield Farm), exclaimed in the meeting how this bill would compromise the whole culture of his operation. These are the ramifications of such a bill and why it was of extreme consequence to give the opposing viewpoints on this important day.
The main part of the afternoon took shape as a buffet luncheon for federal legislators hosted by restaurants and caters who source from local farmers: Woodberry Kitchen, Nora, Alchemy Caterers, Restaurant 3, Coppies Organic, Lavender Moon Cupcakery, Suburban Trading Company and others were kind enough to participate and source this lavish buffet served to Congressman, Senators and staff.
Farmer Joel Salatin (of Food Inc., Fresh, and Omnivores Dilemma fame) took the podium to commence the remainder of the afternoon. His message was simple: “What we have before us today is the antidote to what the industrial system provides. It shows awareness of local alternatives and a need to preserve a historically normal food system.”
Next up and fresh off the floor from delivering a speech opposing the Afghanistan war, Congressman Ron Paul was kind enough to share his time. He stated to me that this was a fantastic group of people with a brilliant message and he was here to give support. An opposer of bill S.510, Paul addressed the crowd by stating that he understands independent farmers know how to farm and take care of themselves. No government intervention or oversight is needed- plain and simple.
Empowered speakers Doreen Hannes and Joan Veon, director of the International Womens Media Group, touched more deeply into the organizations who run the food system, such as the Codex Alimentarius commission. They stated their agendas of a detailed, structured web to work towards the ability to regulate and control the entire food system- from seed to finished product. Works well for the major food corporations and their shareholders, but doesn’t fare so well for the individual consumer in regard to unadulturated, nutritious, farm fresh food.
As a health professional and advocate there is the basic understanding that clean water and organic whole food is a cornerstone to health and well-being. This should be a birthright for everyone, not something we have to fight for. Though food safety is a concern to everyone, this current bill could change our food climate forever.
Please feel free to address your congressmen and senators with any questions or comments in relation to this bill. This link will take you to more information about Bill S.510 and McCains “Dietary Supplement” Bill S.3002. At the bottom of the page is an area to compose a letter to your legislators if you wish.
***UPDATED- 11/29/10- if you want to speak to your senator about opposing S.510 then call the main switchboard 202.224.3121 and ask to be directly connected- or you can find contact information for your US Senator at: http://senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
If this issue is something you feel strongly about after being informed, then the only way to make your voice heard is to speak up and write in. Your representative will love to hear from you.
Adam is a Reiki Master, certified Health and Lifestyle counselor, Licensed Massage Therapist, 20 year practicing bramana initiated Bhakti Yogi, Spiritual advisor, visionary, jock and veteran of the “hardcore punk scene” all rolled into one. Adam is the founder of Omkara World and produced the mind/body fitness DVD “Intelligent Fitness.”
Click here for Adam’s past article archive.
This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.