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November 22, 2010

Food Safety: Are You Afraid of Your Thanksgiving Dinner?

This will be the only action item Downsizer-Dispatch we’ll send this holiday week.

There’s a coming Senate showdown over S.510, the fraudulently-named “food safety” bill:

* A cloture vote passed on Wednesday, November 17, but . . . 
* there will be ANOTHER cloture vote on the 29th on an amended “manager’s” version of the bill.
* As we understand it, this new version will include the Tester-Hagan amendments to exempt small farms, as we have consistently demanded.
* In fact, if this new version DOESN’T pass cloture, the Senate will revert to considering the bill WITHOUT the small farm exemption; obviously we don’t want that to happen.
* As a reminder, it takes 60 votes to pass cloture

In addition, Sen. Coburn will offer a replacement bill that will focus on better food safety communication between the USDA and FDA. It omits most of the draconian regulations of the current S.510, but still requires the FDA regulations to “harmonize” with World Trade Organization (WTO) standards.

And there are unrelated amendments that will be proposed . . .

* Coburn wants an earmark moratorium
* Sens. Baucus and Johanns want to repeal some or all of the 1099 requirements of the healthcare bill

The Coburn and Johanns amendments would be good as stand-alone bills. But if they’re included in S.510, that might actually defuse the widespread opposition and reduce the pressure to defeat this bill.

Besides, we’re true to our principles. We want each subject to be dealt with One Subject At A Time.

What, then, is the recommendation?

The same it has ALWAYS been: tell the Senate to . . .

a) support the Tester-Hagan small farm exemptions, but
b) oppose the final bill.

You may borrow from or copy this letter . . .

I am not afraid to eat a Thanksgiving feast this week. Are you?

Of course not. If Congress really did fear for the safety of our food, that would have been your first priority in January of 2009. But in fact . . .

* Well-publicized contamimated food incidents of recent years often involved criminal wrongdoing under EXISTING LAWS
* Or were the result of neglect by the FDA or USDA
* They have NOT been caused by small farms
* The overwhelming majority of food-related illnesses are the result of cooking errors, NOT contaminated food

The “food safety” legislation was ill-conceived and dangerous from the start. Nothing will fix it.

To make it LESS bad, however, please support any measure which ensures that the Tester-Hagan small farm exemption is in the final bill.

But then, OPPOSE the final bill.

Also, although I support Coburn’s earmark ban and Johanns’ 1099 repeal, don’t let these amendments sway you. Pass them as separate bills instead, and introduce the One Subject At A Time Act.


You may send your message using’s Educate the Powerful System.

And be sure to spread the word to your friends through your social networks.

We at are certainly thankful for your participation and support, and wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

Jim Babka
President, Inc.

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