Sure, I opt in to dozens of feeds from organizations I trust to monitor issues like the ones in the box above. The downside is that my inbox is filled with so many pleas for help that I cannot possibly address them all. So on the weekend, when my brain is high on exercise endorphins and rest, I pick one or two that have come to a head in state or federal government, sometimes at the local level too, research all sides till I think I understand them fairly well, make my decision, and call or write the appropriate lawmakers.
Today's Action: Protecting our food supply
There's a lot of buzz in my inbox about food safety, particularly getting Congress to act to protect you and me, the consumer, better while also protecting the small, local, organic farmer. Some time ago, the U.S. House passed a food safety reform bill. The Senate has one, too, The Sustainable Agriculture and FDA Food Safety Reform Bill (Senate Bill 510), but they're dragging their feet getting it to the floor for a vote.
This bill would give the FDA power and teeth to shut down a peanut plant, for example, that knowingly distributes contaminated peanut butter, before it kills nine people.
Congress intends to fund the program with fees, wherein lies much of the controversy. Small farmers, especially organic farmers, say the $500 annual fee, plus the additional record keeping and testing would put them out of business. To address this issue, Consumers Union advocates changing the fee structure from one size fits all (after all, Big Ag and Big Food can easily comply with a tiny $500 annual fee) to a sliding scale. CU also addresses the issue of small farms who sell directly to the consumer.
A sliding scale of fees with very large facilities being charged more than very small ones would be more fair to small facilities ... Food processing facilities that sell at least half their production direct to the consumer are already classified by FDA as retailers and so would not be covered by this legislation, which addresses farms and processors In addition, the House bill appropriately exempts food sold direct to the consumer (i.e., at a farm stand) or to a restaurant or grocery store from the tracing provisions. ... In fact the House bill calls on FDA "to take into consideration, consistent with ensuring enforceable public health protection, the impact on small scale and diversified farms, and on wildlife habitat, conservation practices, watershed protection efforts, and organic production methods."
I used Consumers Union's Take Action page to send my message to Congress on SB 510. I hope to address one or two of the other issues on the list above before the weekend ends.
Of course, there are myriad ways to take action. Writing letters is just one. I'd love to hear how you are taking action this week. Doesn't matter how small a step it is, and if it's a doozie, let's hear that too!
We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, copyright L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.