URGENT Action Requested

The USDA is proposing more new regulations that will impact small meat processors, family farm livestock producers, and consumers. That means us, and that means you.

*ISSUE*: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the USDA is drafting new meat testing regulations for small food processors. It appears the new regulations will require before and after microbial testing and procedures that will be costly for state and federally inspected meat processors. The concern is these heavy-handed regulations may force small meat processors to reduce the number products they offer, increase prices for processing, discontinue processing under inspection, or worse, shut down altogether.

“As drafted, these new regulations I believe will drive small meat

processors out of business.  Many will not be able to manage the financial

or administrative burdens the new regulation will require.  As a result if

these rules are put in place farmers’ options will be further limited.”  —

Mike Lorentz, Lorentz Meats, Cannon Falls, MN.

These new rules would require small meat processors to go through a costly testing and “validation” for each type of product they offer to farmers or consumers. USDA is advancing these new guidelines in the name “food safety” yet the agency hasn’t provided a clear and supportable case for the existence of a food safety problem which this validation initiative will resolve.

“According to the American Association of Meat Processors, the initial cost could be as much as $12,000 per product line and then $3,600 a year to maintain.  Under these new rules, if a small meat processor offers 10 types of meat products (bacon, ham, jerky etc…) it could cost nearly $120,000 in testing and validation.”

“What we do believe is the new regulations could hurt family farmers who rely on local butchers and small meat processors.  Local and regional food systems are growing and the last thing we need is new USDA regulations that will place roadblocks or result in higher costs for all parties involved in selling butchered or processed livestock.”

– Kate Fitzgerald, Senior Policy Associate

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

We request your help, and time is running out. There are a couple of steps you can take to show your support for small farmers, meat processors, and yourself as the consumer:

1. Call USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack at 202-720-3631 *He needs to know how these proposed rules affect family farmers and could negatively impact local and regional food systems and family farmers  These new guidelines run *absolutely counter* to the “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” campaign USDA had been trumpeting.

2. Submit comments: *USDA is accepting comments on the new rules through June 19, 2010.  Farmers are encouraged to submit comments on the draft validation compliance guide.  Below are two ways to send comments as well as an example comment farmers can make.*

a.      email to DraftValidationGuideComments [at] fsis [dot] usda [dot] gov or mail to,

b.     Docket Clerk USDA

FSIS, Room 2-2127

5601 Sunnyside Avenue

Beltsville, MD 20705.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Land Stewardship Project at 612-722-6377.

Ben has called and did get to talk to someone at Tom Vilsack’s office. Of course they were trying to rush him through, but he asked for patience and time to listen to what he had to say, and was able to speak his thoughts about the “regulations.” He also emailed his comments to the above email address. Here is a copy if his email:

My name is Ben Coleman. I am a fulltime farmer and food producer in central Virginia. I am 36 years old. I am building a successful Farm operation which sells Our home-raised meats directly to the consumer from the farm. Our farm has an “open gate” policy that allows ALL customers to inspect our farm ANY time. This relationship builds trust and safety. Our farm is a power house in the Local food system of Bedford County, VA. We have ten years of experience selling to about 300 families in VA. These families are dependent on us. They are passionate and ready to fight for their food rights. I am writing to WARN the politicians. If our community is pressured by any more regulation (regulation is already out of touch with reality and is keeping our business in “survival” mode) there WILL BE on onslaught of angry families who vote to protect their food and their farmer (ME!). Please heed the warnings that hard working American Farmers are expressing. I invite anyone interested to visit our farm on the web at mountainrunfarm.com OR in person. I believe we have some answers to creating FOOD SAFETY and security of the American Food Producers. The safest food in American history came from the backyards and family farms of the Founding Fathers. These were the days BEFORE any diseases or need for Government Regulation. We are reaching that same level of food safety on Mountain Run Farm in Sedalia, VA. Thank you for Supporting, not hindering, REAL family farms,

Ben Coleman

Ben is sticking his nose out for our supporters, and he urges you to all to do the same. This is serious business.

We thank you.

One Response

  1. Tara Miller
    Tara Miller at ·

    Great letter, Ben! I also plan to write in opposition to the proposed regulations. Our government needs to spend more time regulating the agribusiness practices that have led to an unsafe food supply, and allow those who are offering a solution, e.g., Mountain Run Farm, to thrive. Consumers also need to vote with their dollars and buy as much as they can from local farmers. We’re with you, Ben and Carly!

    Tara Miller
    Farm To You
    Lexington

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