Subject: The bill we warned you about
THIS IS AN URGENT ACTION ITEM... We've been told a vote is likely to occur Wednesday.
When we first launched our Freedom to Farm campaign back in April, we mentioned that House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman said "he intends to pass a strong food safety bill soon."
This bill we warned you about, the 109-page H.R. 2749, is Waxman's promise.
The good news is that some of the most egregious trial balloons from earlier bills such as H.R. 875 have gone by the wayside . . .
* There will be no new Food Safety Administration bureaucracy
* The bill seems to define "farm" in such a way that backyard gardens won't be included in the regulations
* Direct farm-to-consumer, farm-to-restaurant, and farm-to-grocery store transactions will be exempt
* There is no implementation or incorporation of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS)
YOU are to be thanked for this. DC Downsizers were part of a large army of concerned citizens that killed earlier bills.
But the bad news is very bad. This bill . . .
* authorizes warrantless searches of farms
* imposes a $500 tax (or "registration fee") of all operators in all steps of the food production chain
* imposes civil penalties up to $20,000 per individual for each violation
* creates a food trace-back system, burdening farms and small businesses with reams of new paperwork
* empowers the Dept. of Health and Human Services to micro-manage the raising and harvesting of crops (you might have assumed that Congress would've handed the U.S. Dept of Agriculture this terrible power).
In essence, Congress wants to punish the innocent and protect the guilty. It is not small farms and businesses that were the source of contaminated food scares, but rather the processing facilities of large corporations. Yet this bill will only drive small farms out of business, which means reduced competition and higher prices in an already-bad economy.
Please use DownsizeDC.org's proprietary Educate the Powerful System to send a letter to Congress telling them to defeat H.R. 2749. Tell them the bill will only hurt competition and put undue burdens on small farmers. Let's send enough messages to frighten Congress and kill this bill.
And due to the urgency of this vote, if you have time, please call your local House Representative as well. His or her contact info is presented on the campaign page, once you're logged in.