S510 pro and con
RL calls, so I've got no time for anything long form. But we need to be doing catch up on S510, and the Tester Amendment*, and Grist looks like an excellent starting point.
On the one hand, Tom Philpott:
Today, thousands of small farms and food purveyors are building out alternative food systems rooted in community development and ecological sustainability, not just profit. I can testify firsthand that they are economically fragile, as they (unlike the dominant food system) operate without government support or subsidy. Without the Tester amendment, S. 510 could end up only slightly reining in the ruinous practices of large players while clobbering these alternative food networks. That would be disastrous.
On the other, Russell Libby:
Yes, S. 510 will hinder small farmers. The Tester amendment will make a big difference. So far, however, I still lean toward supporting S. 510, because I'm worried about the regulatory direction of FDA absent Congressional direction.
FDA is prepared to issue produce safety regulations next spring. If S. 510 is passed, and directs FDA to be sensitive to the needs of small farmers, organic farmers, wildlife, and more, that at least gives us grounds for argument in the regulatory process.
This is just one step in a continuing political debate about the role of the states versus the federal government, and, more to the point, about the importance of a decentralized food system versus one where only a few suppliers distribute to only a few buyers.
All centralized systems tend to support other centralized systems. That's the reality of the scale at which Washington, and FDA, work. It's up to all of us to develop clear, workable alternatives that we can use as our counterarguments. Farmers are not ignoring food safety -- they are eating the same food they are selling their customers. We need to push to develop the decentralized systems that both work for farmers and provide the basic assurances that everyone wants.
An excellent article, "serious" in the best and truest sense of the word. Read it all and discuss! The entire series is here.
NOTE * I could really use a summary of the state of play, and so, I think, could many others. The Ds have apparently punted on this 'til after Thanksgiving.