Action Alert: Protect Small Farmers and Food Producers from FSMA Regulations

small family farm

We fought hard for the Tester-Hagan amendment to exempt small-scale, direct-marketing farms and artisan food producers from the most burdensome aspects of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This exemption is essential to the continued vitality of the local foods movement.

Now the FDA is proposing rules that would make it very easy for the agency to force even small-scale farmers to comply with the onerous FSMA regulations, and all but impossible for these vulnerable farmers to protect themselves.

Under the proposed rules, if the FDA decides to revoke the Tester-Hagan exemption and force a small-scale, direct-marketing farmer or artisan food producer to comply with the new federal requirements:

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Friday Roundup: Latest Food & Activism News

newTPP map cropped

Country of Origin Labeling, Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, San Antonio Water Supply, Citizen Activism Workshop in Austin, TX

As the weather starts to cool down, food and agriculture issues are heating up.

At the federal level, The World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled that the United States’ mandatory country of origin labels (COOL) rules for meat and poultry are an improper trade barrier. This international power play is a stark reminder of why we need to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, which may be coming back in the lame duck session after the elections. (And stay tuned for the latest news on food safety regulations, coming next week!)

Meanwhile, in Texas, San Antonio politicians appear bent on jumping into a financially risky public-private partnership to build a 142-mile pipeline to grab water from rural areas and ship it down to San Antonio in order to allow development over their own environmentally sensitive aquifer recharge zone.…

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EPA and USDA Approved Dow’s 2,4-D Resistant Seeds and Pesticide


It’s official. EPA and USDA have both evaluated Dow Chemical’s new line of 2,4-D-resistant seeds, Enlist — and have approved both the seeds and the accompanying pesticide formulation for market.

This is a turning point, not just for grain production but for food production in the U.S. and internationally. The introduction of Enlist corn and soybeans, and the widespread adoption of this new seed line, will have pervasive impacts on farmer livelihoods, public health and control of our food system.

This is a decision that our regulators should not have taken lightly. And yet, it seems they did. Both USDA and EPA set up an intentionally narrow scope for evaluating the potential harms posed by 2,4-D resistant crops — one that ignored the biggest problems and held up irrelevant factors as evidence of safety.

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Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement Could Undermine GMO Labeling


FARFA joined with seventy consumer, farm and food groups, and businesses on a letter urging the Obama Administration not to restrict efforts to label genetically engineered foods in the ongoing and secret U.S.-EU trade talks.

Click here to read that letter.

Through negotiations on the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) with the European Union, the U.S. Trade Representative seeks to establish common regulations covering consumer protections, and has targeted the European Union’s regulations of genetically engineered foods, which includes consumer labeling. U.S. and EU agribusiness firms have been open about their desire to eliminate GMO labeling laws under TAFTA—including the rising number of U.S. states moving to require GMO labeling.

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2014 Texas Legislative Candidates

Early voting in the Texas elections for state legislators — representatives and senators — is October 20-31, and election day is on November 4, 2014.

Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance sent a questionnaire to all of the candidates for whom we could find email addresses. We provided a brief background on some key issues, and asked six questions.

Below is a table showing each candidate’s response to these questions. If a candidate did not respond to our questionnaire, we have not listed him/her in this chart. After the chart are links to PDF files of the candidate’s responses for those who provided additional comments.

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Alert (Texas): Speak up for local foods, meet with your legislators

Citizen Lobby Day 2013

What makes elected officials pay attention to an issue, such as raw milk or cottage foods, out of the hundreds of issues that they hear about through emails and postcards and online petitions?

Your elected officials pay attention when they see that the issue is really a high priority for their constituents. The best way to send that message is through an in-person meeting! You not only show your commitment, you also “put a face” on the issue.

Right now, Texas state legislators are in the process of creating their list of priorities for the 2015 legislative session, and we want supporting local farmers and local foods to be on that list!

Can you make some time in the next few weeks to meet with your State Representative and Senator (or the candidates running for your district)?

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2014 Austin City Council and Mayoral Candidates

For the first time, residents of the City of Austin will vote for district-specific council members. This historic election has significant implications for the future of local food in the City.

Early voting for City of Austin candidates is October 20-31, and election day is on November 4, 2014.

Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance sent a questionnaire to all of the candidates for whom we could find email addresses. We provided a brief background on some key issues, and asked five questions.

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Alert (Texas): Protect the water supply for rural counties in Central Texas


Tell the San Antonio City Council not to raid the water we need for agriculture!


October 7, 2014 update:

The San Antonio City Council will vote later this month on the Vista Ridge Project to take 50,000 acre-feet of groundwater per year from Burleson and Milam Counties to fuel urban growth.

WHEN: The first hearing on the proposal will be tomorrow, Wednesday, October 8, at 6 pm.

WHERE / WHAT TO DO: Come to City Hall, 114 W. Commerce to show your opposition to draining rural water supplies on a risky pipeline project for the benefit of private companies! Come a little early to sign up to speak, or just stand there with a “Stop the Water Grab” sign provided by the League of Independent Voters.

For more information on participating in the hearing, call League of Independent Voters at 512-213-4511 or email

Can’t come to the hearing? You can still help, by signing the League’s online letter!…

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USDA signals approval of Dow’s 2,4-D-resistant seeds


But our fight to protect our food system must continue.

Last week, USDA announced final plans to give Dow the green light to begin marketing its controversial genetically engineered 2,4-D-resistant seeds. After 30 days, the USDA decision will become official. At the same time, the agency announced its preliminary decision to also approve Monsanto’s dicamba-resistant seeds.

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Fifty Members of Congress Press EPA and USDA to Reject New GE Crops


Thank you to everyone who wrote and called their U.S. Congress men and women to oppose the new use of the toxic herbicide 2,4-D. Click here to see our previous alert.

On August 1, 2014, fifty Members of Congress led by Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR-04) and Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME-01) wrote to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expressing “grave concerns” over Dow Chemical’s Enlist Duo™ herbicide and new varieties of genetically engineered (GE) corn and soy the herbicide mixture would be used with.

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