The past few weeks have seen plenty of discussion about House Resolution 875, the Food Safety and Modernization Act of 2009. Some of the extended blog panic includes allegations that Tyson and Cargill, among others, had a hand in drafting the legislation.
Whether or not that's the case, there's legitimate concern that HR 875 will make it nearly impossible for small-time agriculture to continue as a business, as the bill in its current form sounds like it requires your local beekeepers and tomato-growers to implement the same expensive safety measures as big agricultural concerns like Tyson and Kraft.
While the organic and local food movement has gained momentum for more than a decade, to the tune of 300,000 new farms according to the DMN piece, it sounds like this bill might put the brakes on things.
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It's not just the DMN taking notice. Media outlets in places like Vermont and Upstate New York, where the small-town tourism industry relies heavily on family-owned operations are spreading the word as well, but they say it's not panic time just yet. Trade groups like the The Northeast Organic Farmers Association still hope for a compromise.
The compromise might not be necessary. Rep. Rosa DeLaurio (D-CT.), who introduced the bill, is quoted here saying, "The bill does not apply to vendors at farmers markets, and therefore will not change the way this business runs. It is meant to address food sold in supermarkets."
However, locally produced foods are increasingly sold in supermarkets, and that's before taking into account Whole Foods and other similar chains. Maybe it's not panic time, but it won't hurt to keep an eye on the bill's movement through Congress.
For now it's been stuck with a couple of committees.