December 1, 2010

So You Think Your Activist Organization Is Really On Your Side?

Just finished another round of fighting S510. What a confounding mess that was. Worked a week solid to rouse support from my many networks to ask their Senators to vote the thing down. What I knew hardly ever meshed up with what the 'activists organizations' were saying. And that Tester amendment, later called the Tester-Hagen amendment, that sure was a line drawn in the shifting sands. Those activist/policy groups supported the amendment from the get-go, never mind that is was a worthless piece of poo when held up to these words in the bill:

Nothing in this Act (or an amendment made by this Act) shall be construed in a manner inconsistent with the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization or any other treaty or international agreement to which the United States is a party.
Here's some background info on the Tester Amendment that was posted to one of these policy setting activist groups that I am complaining about.

Senator Jon Tester has reached an agreement with the managers of S.510 to include a new, compromise version of the amendment in the Senate food safety bill.

The agreed-upon amendment exempts producers who gross under $500,000 and who sell more than half their products directly to consumers or local restaurants and retailers from the HARCP and produce safety standards provisions.

As part of the compromise, "local" restaurants and retailers are defined as those who are either in-state or within 275 miles of the producer. (the earlier version of the amendment had allowed for up to 400 miles)

The compromise also added language that gives FDA authority to withdraw an exemption from a farm or facility that has been associated with a foodborne illness outbreak.

The amendment text and a summary are posted on Senator Tester's website:

How many times is compromise used? That's what it is all about, compromise. These activist groups will not stand firm for the truth, in this case, S510 is going to hurt small farmers. Period.

This morning the emails are ablaze with information about S510 and I haven't seen much that is actually accurate. Just in, one from Alliance for Natural Health USA that addresses the current situation, S510 is dead in the water.

What I have learned is that the policy/activist groups I am talking about here (and I'm sure you belong to one or two, get newsletters from more than a few of them) are in business for one reason and one reason pick and choose from a variety of issues that have grassroots interest the ones that they know they can win (or make a lot of winning noises about) so that they can keep themselves going and look good in the process. The Raw Milk bill here in Vermont is a perfect example of that. And while the fight over S510 was going on, these groups continued to offer on-farm slaughter clinics, raw cheese making classes, and courses on how to get grants to start your own CSA.

I'd like to list these groups for you, but I won't. Just pay attention to the organizations you belong to and watch them like a hawk. Do they really represent your interests or are they compromise makers?

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