As you all know, I think our just-in-time food delivery system puts us at great risk in the event of a disaster that prevents the trucks from running. I advocate not only storing food but also knowing and supporting your local suppliers from dairies to beekeepers to truck gardens to orchards. There is a bill coming up for a vote in the senate today that cold have a dramatic effect on our ability to access local food. It is called the Safe Food Act. While it sounds benign, it has the potential to put all of us who even minimally process food for sale to the public right out of business. It calls for far more stringent safety inspections for all food producers and imposes standards that would be difficult to meet without huge price increases. Most of us wouldn’t bother.
There is an amendment to the bill, The Tester amendment, that would exempt small and mid-sized family farms from the language, as long as we are selling direct to consumers or retailers. I urge all of you to take a look at the bill and the amendment, make an informed decision about what it contains, and if so moved, call your senator’s office today and encourage them to vote.
Let me give you an idea of how the bill would affect me and people in my neighborhood. We supply honey and honey products to people in town. I just purchased the tools, supplies and equipment to begin to make a creamed honey product. I ordered my supplies from a distributer located about an hour from here. If I can’t sell this creamed honey unless I submit to kitchen inspections I will have to stop production. I don’t have a stainless steel sink and I don’t have a separate refrigeration unit. I can’t afford to put either in. It hurts me, it hurts the distributer and it hurts the families that count on our honey as part of their diet. I will still raise bees for home use but my business would probably be gone. Now I don’t make much money. (I actually mean Bruce-he does 99 % of the work) but the business matters to me. It has the potential to grow and it has the potential to help feed my community.
This stuff makes me crazy. The odds are that this was no conspiracy designed to drive Barefoot Farm out of business but the unintended consequences could. When are we going to wise up and recognized that the small farmers are a necessary part of the food picture. We are so food insecure and it may well be our downfall.
Now that that little rant is over, I am off to PA this morning for the fair. I hope to see some of you there. I am sure to lots to tell you when I return. Expect a post next Tuesday.