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HR 2749 Nearly Passes And Spells The End Of Local Food

Well folks, it looks like Wendell Berry may get his chance to go to jail. Minutes ago the majority of the U.S. House of Representatives voted yes on HR 2749, the so-called “Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009.” They came just 6 votes shy of passing the bill.

Of course, HR 2749 is not friendly to small farmers. In fact, it will likely put them out of business. The bill has a number of faults, but the most alarming one is that it finally sneaked the NAIS program into a bill, despite the huge groundswell of dissent among our nation’s public.


And I do mean sneaked. The bill was voted on by suspending the rules, limiting discussion to less than an hour, and not allowing any amendments that could have clarified who these new rules should affect. In the course of the last 24 hours, the language of the bill had been changed three times, and most representatives didn’t have the chance to read the latest version before being required to vote.

The only reason this bill is NOT the current law of the land is that it did not win enough of a majority to pass. If it had been voted on under normal rules, with normal debate allowed, it would have easily been the new law of the land.

Why Should You Care About NAIS?

NAIS promises to require every single livestock animal in America to be identified and tagged — no matter the size of the operation. So, you’ve got a few backyard chickens? Some milking goats? A small free-range pig farm? Say hello to expensive tagging & government paperwork.

HR 2749 was sold to us as a means of protecting our food supply, a way to keep us safer. Congressmen felt rushed to pass it into law so that they could say they did something to respond to our never ending sea of food recalls and the radical increase in food borne illnesses. If I thought it would actually improve food safety, that’d be one thing. But the truth is that NAIS is simply a burdensome tracking system for AFTER the food borne illness spreads. NAIS makes sense for large-scale farms moving tens of thousands of heads of cattle, but for a small producer serving a local, limited market, the law makes no sense at all since that kind of direct farm to consumer channel is easily traceable.

To top it all off, large scale farming operations are actually exempted from tagging each individual animal! Instead, they can tag an entire herd with the same ID. This will save them millions of dollars while effectively putting all their smaller competitors out of business.

What Else Is Wrong With HR 2749?

A careful reading of the bill also reveals that HR 2749:

  1. Will create duplicate fees & requirements for certified organic producers.
  2. Will erode wildlife habitats in a misguided attempt to keep produce “clean” — when it is clear from the scientific evidence that it is industrialized animals that spread E.Coli 0157:H7 and Salmonella, not wild animals.
  3. Will greatly increase the costs associated with safely composting manure and using it as a fertilizer for natural and organic crops.
  4. Will interfere with and possibly prohibit small-scale farmers adding value to their products. This includes washing and cutting produce, creating canned jams or jellies, anything really.
  5. Will require a costly electronic filing system that may well put farmers using paper records out of business, including many of our Amish brothers and sisters who can not comply with the electronic filing standards without violating their religious principles.
  6. Will give the federal government the power to ban raw milk sales.

Basically, this bill — as written, without any amendments or clarifications — will ruin small family farm agriculture and eliminate consumer choice. It may be that the only farms able to survive this new legislation are industrialized farms. In the very least, it will consolidate industrial agriculture even further.

What Can YOU Do?

Right now HR 2749 is going back into committee to be modified and re-written in the hopes of bringing it back to the floor for a regular vote tomorrow, Thursday July 30th. Now is the time to call your representative and tell them to vote NO on this bill when it comes up again. If you’d like to find out how your congressperson originally voted — whether to express your support or disappointment — click here.

And, if you’re like me and less than optimistic about our ability to actually have a say in our legislative process, then tell your representative to AT LEAST demand provisions or amendments in the bill that will protect small scale farmers and producers.

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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.

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40 Responses to HR 2749 Nearly Passes And Spells The End Of Local Food
  1. pricharm
    July 29, 2009 | 3:39 pm

    Contact your representative! RT @FoodRenegade HR 2749 Nearly passes and spells the end of local, sustainable food: http://bit.ly/DToFX

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  2. christa_girl
    July 29, 2009 | 3:46 pm

    Reading @foodrenegade HR 2749 Nearly Passes And Spells The End Of Local Food http://tinyurl.com/lvbquu

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  3. Arlo
    July 29, 2009 | 3:48 pm

    So, you

  4. vulturegirl
    July 29, 2009 | 3:52 pm

    http://bit.ly/DToFX 2/2

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  5. Bethany
    July 29, 2009 | 6:12 pm

    Lord have mercy! I agree that ‘these are the kind of laws that make raw milk an underground thing’! I would add pastured meat and eggs to that list as well.
    .-= Bethany

  6. dasparky
    July 29, 2009 | 7:24 pm

    Disappointed at: “HR 2749 [...] Passes And Spells The End Of Local Food” ( http://bit.ly/eMMNF )

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  7. Chefmattrock
    July 29, 2009 | 7:44 pm

    Call your reps now. No lie. RT @TazaChocolate: HR 2749 Nearly passes and spells the end of local, sustainable food: http://bit.ly/DToFX

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  8. Sara
    July 29, 2009 | 10:54 pm

    I found it interesting that it is mostly democrats voting for the thing. Contact your representatives!!

  9. thefreckledmama
    July 29, 2009 | 11:40 pm

    Reading @foodrenegade HR 2749 Nearly Passes And Spells The End Of Local Food http://tinyurl.com/lvbquu

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  10. OsbertL
    July 30, 2009 | 4:28 am

    US law to spell end of #localfood? http://bit.ly/h695O via@andrewindunning @foodrenegade

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  11. thecatcancook
    July 30, 2009 | 4:44 am

    HR 2749 Nearly Passes And Spells The End Of Local Food – http://shar.es/kBEj

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  12. Rebecca Self
    July 30, 2009 | 5:13 am

    This is great! Discovered your blog through a tweet by @bself, no relation, same last name.
    I recently blogged a personal take on the situation:http://www.xpatadventures.com/we-are-what-we-eat

    Thanks for the great blog!
    Rebecca
    .-= Rebecca Self

  13. MindfulFarmer
    July 30, 2009 | 6:07 am

    @tomperriello Good morning Rep. Perriello please vote and encourage other to vote against hr-2749 today. http://tinyurl.com/m8jd3k

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  14. MindfulFarmer
    July 30, 2009 | 6:12 am

    PLEASE encourage your representatives to vote against HR -2749 http://tinyurl.com/m8jd3k

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  15. DrinkCraftBeer
    July 30, 2009 | 7:40 am

    Contact your rep! RT @Chefmattrock RT @TazaChocolate HR 2749 Nearly passes and spells the end of local sustainable food: http://bit.ly/DToFX

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  16. RAWedAwake
    July 30, 2009 | 7:49 am

    Reading @foodrenegade HR 2749 Nearly Passes And Spells The End Of Local Food http://tinyurl.com/lvbquu

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  17. Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen
    July 30, 2009 | 8:03 am

    This is so upsetting, but now is really the time to act as their going back for another vote. Now all they need is a simple majority which is what they have! If anyone hasn’t contacted their representative, it’s time to do so now.
    .-= Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen

  18. epavner
    July 30, 2009 | 9:22 am

    Seems that HR 2749 nearly passed (6 votes short) which would spell the end of local food.: http://bit.ly/DToFX (via @bself). Not good.

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  19. emjukes
    July 30, 2009 | 9:25 am

    http://bit.ly/yQd7U

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  20. emjukes
    July 30, 2009 | 9:26 am

    End of local food??
    http://bit.ly/yQd7U

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  21. cookingupastory
    July 30, 2009 | 10:22 am

    HR 2749 Nearly Passes And Spells The End Of Local Food http://bit.ly/dprWa Re-vote tomorrow. Via @foodrenegade

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  22. EatingIthaca
    July 30, 2009 | 10:42 am

    HR 2749 Nearly Passes And Spells The End Of Local Food http://bit.ly/dprWa Re-vote tomorrow. Via @foodrenegade

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  23. karen r.
    July 30, 2009 | 11:15 am

    soooo, i googled ‘hr 2749′ just now to see if i could find out today’s voting results. i scroll to the bottom of the first list of sites google lists, and there’s foodrenegade.com!!!!

    can i get your autograph next time i see you? :)

    thanks for the info on the bill, btw. i’ve called my reps, the governor, and the head of the USDA’s NAIS thingamabob, AND forwarded the info on to friends. i’m not hopeful, but at least i feel like i did something.

  24. webpath
    July 30, 2009 | 11:27 am

    Writing to Eric Massa again. Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 is a very scary thing for #localvore http://bit.ly/uaNJ1

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  25. Krys
    July 30, 2009 | 12:33 pm

    Great post! I’ve emailed my Congressman and urged him to change his vote. Keep spreading the word…..there are many of us against this and together we can make a difference. :)

  26. Marc Feel Good Eating
    July 30, 2009 | 12:35 pm

    Scary scary stuff.
    Keep supporting your local peeps…..it’s our only way to truly make a difference.

    Here’s the link if anyone wants to follow updates on what passes.
    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-2749

    Marc
    .-= Marc Feel Good Eating

  27. gilliebean
    July 30, 2009 | 1:11 pm

    Thank you for posting links to make it easy for me to find my congressman and contact him. I have done so!!
    .-= gilliebean

  28. thefreckledmama
    July 30, 2009 | 1:48 pm

    Please take a moment to read… @foodrenegade HR 2749 Nearly Passes And Spells The End Of Local Food http://tinyurl.com/lvbquu

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  29. Alana Sheldahl
    July 30, 2009 | 3:45 pm

    This makes me so sick! I e-mailed my congressman earlier today and I’m vilely angry that he voted “yes”.

    Oh, ugh! Just when I found such a good thing and now it might be going away!!!!
    .-= Alana Sheldahl

  30. clairesvt
    July 31, 2009 | 11:20 am

    #HR2749 Size DOESN’T matter – regulates all farms/food operations, read about via @FoodRenegade http://tinyurl.com/lvbquu

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  31. Walter Jeffries
    July 31, 2009 | 3:01 pm

    My Representative, Peter Welch of Vermont, voted No on it both times but sadly this has passed on the House rules change. This bill gives all too much power to the bureaucrats. They are pencil pushers who do not understand the plow. At best they are from Big Ag, or is that at worst. Either way it is the same-o-same-o with them. They’re doing their best to shut down small farms and hand over the goodies to Big Ag. The big corporations want that last 15% of the market firmly under their thumbs. We will lose choice in the market and food security as they consolidate.

    What’s left? Fight it in the Senate.

  32. localfoodexpert
    August 2, 2009 | 5:25 pm

    Reading @foodrenegade HR 2749 Nearly Passes And Spells The End Of Local Food http://tinyurl.com/lvbquu

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  33. greensummit
    August 4, 2009 | 8:08 am

    http://bit.ly/xs67M
    A MUST READ! another unbelievable bill.

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  34. cwpontwit
    August 5, 2009 | 1:09 am

    http://bit.ly/yQd7U

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  35. cwpontwit
    August 5, 2009 | 1:10 am

    HR 2749 Nearly Passes And Spells The End Of Local Food
    http://bit.ly/yQd7U

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  36. LifeSpan1
    August 5, 2009 | 10:10 am

    Reading @foodrenegade HR 2749 Nearly Passes And Spells The End Of Local Food http://tinyurl.com/lvbquu

    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  37. Kim
    August 5, 2009 | 11:21 am

    Please remember snail mail is more apt to be taken seriously than an email when corresponding with your rep. It takes a little extra work, but we have to do it.

    Also, if you live close to your capital, drop in while they are out of session. March, make placards, take a group. We have 3 weeks to push back.

    Tell everyone you know!
    There is no time to waste.

  38. Kim
    August 5, 2009 | 11:26 am

    Did you know farmers are issued gag orders after they have been duped and tricked and taken and sued by Monsanto? All organic life, the eco-system, bee farmers, seeds, organic growth is at stake. Read this bill, especially the Codex Alimentarius guidelines!
    Rise up, tell your reps we have had enough!

  39. jessica@Allconnect HR
    July 14, 2011 | 2:00 am

    I think us food bloggers need to keep on keeping on. We can only do the best we can with what we have from where we are. We are making progress. We must believe this. The internet is an amazing tool. Let’s not give up. It’s a war, sadly, but we will come out on top.

  40. Digital Satellite
    July 3, 2013 | 5:48 pm

    Hi there, I read your new stuff like every week.
    Your writing style is awesome, keep doing what you’re doing!

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.