This past week the action in the U.S. Senate has been fast and furious. In the past 48 hours more than 7,000 Food Democracy Now! members have made phone calls to their Senators asking them to include provisions in the Food Safety Modernization Act that protected family-scale farm operations from excessive regulations. You’re incredible.
Remarkably, as a result of your phone calls the Senate reached a deal on the Tester-Hagan Amendment yesterday morning. Now Big Ag has decided to throw a tantrum. Late yesterday afternoon a coalition of 20 produce groups sent a “letter” to Senate leadership urging the defeat of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
Big Ag is claiming that these important farmer protection provisions are part of an “ideological war” and are doing everything they can behind the scenes to kill this important legislation.
But we can’t let them. There’s too much at stake. Every year more than 5,000 people die as a result of foodborne diseases and more than 76 million fall ill according to the Centers for Disease Control.
If you care about food safety and family farmers we’re asking you to make one more call to your Senators to make sure they understand how important passing this bill is to their constituents. We can’t let Big Ag lobbyists put petty politics over lives or farmer’s livelihoods.
Click below to tell your Senator to pass the Food Safety bill, tell them consumers and family farmer’s deserve to be protected, not Big Ag lobbyists!
Late Thursday evening the Senate voted 57 to 27 to move forward on the food safety bill, incredibly, some 16 Senators skipped this important vote. No wonder they call it a lame duck session! As you well know, to get this bill to pass a full vote, we'll need 60 votes, so every vote counts. Make sure these Senator are there for the next important vote!
Democratic Senators that missed the vote included:
Evan Bayh (D-IN) and Arlen Specter (D-PA) - both lame ducks.
John Kerry (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Jim Webb (D-VA) — no excuses.
Since the bill is being supported down fiercely partisan lines, we wanted to make sure that Food Democracy Now! members knew which Democratic Senators did not make this vote. If they had showed up, the vote would have been 63 to 27 -- enough to get it to a full floor vote and passed into law.
If you live in their state make sure you call them again and tell them how important this bill is to protect children and family farmers.
Call All Republicans! They are Scheming with Big to kill food safety reform.
On the Republican side of the aisle, support for the bill is weak, with only 4 Republican Senators voting for to proceed. As with everything in DC in these past few years, Republicans would rather throw up roadblocks than do the people’s business.
It’s time to remind them who they work for. If you have a Republican Senator in your state, call them now.
In an odd show of weakness, 4 of the Republican sponsors of the bill either voted against cloture last night or skipped the vote.
Republican S.510 Sponsor who went AWOL on Food Safety Cloture Vote:
Judd Gregg (R-NH) lame duck Senator retiring – if you live in NH make sure that you call him and tell him to VOTE FOR the food safety bill and support consumer safety and family farmers.
Republican S.510 Sponsors who voted NO on Cloture Vote:
Richard Burr (R-NC) , Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Remember, these are Senators who actually sponsored the bill, i.e. supported it until now, when the Tester amendment was added, the amendment that you called for, and then they started caving to industry pressure.
If you live in their state let them know you care about food safety, local foods and family farmers! Click below.
Special Treat Performance on Food Safety
And last, but not least, Food Democracy Now! wanted to let you know about Senator Tom Coburn M.D. (R-OK), the single biggest obstacle preventing the food safety bill from passing.
Yesterday on the Senate floor, Senator Coburn gave an unbelievable performance, rambling and misstating basic facts about foodborne illnesses in the U.S.
Not only is Coburn ignorant about food safety, but also, in his fierce partisan desire to kill this important bill -- which will protect us from serious food safety outbreaks -- he proves he doesn’t care about America’s 300 million citizens who urgently need this bill.
Instead, Coburn would rather stall progress for family farmers by demanding that the U.S. ban all earmark spending through 2013. As a result of Coburn’s unreasonable demands, what food experts Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser have called “the most important food safety bill in a generation”, it languishes on a pyre of self-righteous political grandstanding.
If you live in Oklahoma, please tell Senator Coburn to stop playing chicken with your children’s food.
Let Senator Coburn know that AMERICA needs food safety reform now. America’s citizens and our farmers deserve protection.
Word on the street in DC is that Senator Coburn tried to broker a deal with Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) on the food safety bill and take away important provisions like "mandatory reporting".
Tell Senator Harkin to steal Coburn’s cookies and stand strong! Pass the food safety bill as is. No more compromise, no more wasted time.
Don’t let Big Ag and one angry man’s crusade stand in the way of this important legislation -- Act Today -- this could be our last best chance to achieve important food safety reforms.
Make a call today -- don’t let America’s children wait to grow up before this opportunity comes up again.
As always, thanks for participating in food democracy,
- Dave, Lisa and The Food Democracy Now! Team