SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR FLORIDA’S FAMILY FARMS

Florida Food Freedom Act of 2010

Action needed

Florida’s family farmers and Floridians who want to eat locally-grown food need your help  to free Florida’s food and family farmers from burdensome regulation and fees.

Attached are all the tools you need to lend your voice in support of Florida family farmers, as well as a quick tutorial on the proposed legislation.  Passage of the Florida Food Freedom Act promises to bring Floridian’s a wider variety of healthy, locally-grown foods direct from the Florida farmer.  But we need your help.
Unlike many Americans who live in other states, Floridians are decades behind when it comes to getting fresh, locally-grown food.  It’s because the Florida Food Safety Act, passed in 1939  and amended over the years, has placed burdensome regulations and fees on all food producers regardless of size or style of food distribution.
These same regulations make it very difficult for Florida’s family farmers to make a living working their farmland.  Instead, as the family farmer ages (the average age of Florida farmers is 58.4 years old), they opt to sell their farmland for development.  Thousands of acres of valuable open farmland have been lost to this trend, a good part of it caused by regulations that treat every food maker the same – regardless of distribution channel.
The Florida Food Freedom Act of 2010 allows family farms to remain profitable and viable by defining a short food distribution chain and exempting it from burdensome regulatory oversight that a longer, multi-layered food distribution chain should be required to have.    The Florida Food Freedom Act permits a single-link food distribution chain that starts with the food producer, or the producer’s agent, and ends with the consumer.  The Florida Food Freedom Act acknowledges that the relationship between the producer and the consumer, including the producer’s integrity and the consumer’s interest in and knowledge of how the food is raised, harvested, and prepared provides sufficient oversight.
We need your support to free Florida’s Family Farmers and the people who want to consume locally-grown Florida Food.  Senator Carey Baker and Representative Bryan Nelson are introducing legislation in this legislative session. They need your support.
Here’s how you can  help
First, read the proposed Florida Food Freedom Act – it simply alters existing Florida Statues to better define the distribution chain.  Strikeout shows the old words and proposes eliminating those words.  Underlines indicate proposed new words to the existing Statutes.  There are two parts of the existing Florida Statutes that the Florida Food Freedom Act is attempting to change.
The first is 500.12 which currently exempts from permits folks who make cane syrup among other things.  Instead of defining the food sold, the Florida Food Freedom Act defines the transaction chain – showing that as long as the transaction chain is very short, it’s exempt from unnecessary regulation.  In the interest of food safety, the Florida Food Freedom Act also  requires  that producers who sell direct to the consumer take the Food Safety Manager Course, an educational program that gives the farmer the tools they need to handle food more safely.  This same course is required by restaurant and other foodservice managers.
The other part of the Florida Food Freedom Act changes a subsection of 583.01, bringing it in line with the requirements of the USDA for egg and poultry producers.  Current Florida statutes  under 583.01 make it nearly impossible for Florida farmers to grow and sell eggs or chicken directly to the consumer unless they are labeled “not for human consumption”.  By adopting the USDA regulations, which many other states have already adopted, small producers will be allowed to supply eggs and poultry directly to consumers.
Please use the Talking Points (backed by a Sources document) and the Draft Resolution to ask your County Commissioners’ and City Commissioners’ to back the Florida Food Freedom Act.  The Act promises economic benefits to local governments through improved tax bases and spending locally.  Getting your City and County Commissions’ endorsement means asking to speak before the Commissioners, educating them about how passage of the Act will help their local economy and constituents.
You can also educate groups you belong to and ask them to endorse the Act either by passing a similar Resolution to the one provided, or by sending their Florida Senate and House representatives letters and emails supporting Senator Baker’s bill – currently S #1900.
A separate House bill has not yet been introduced.  Like copies of the letters, copies of the endorsed Resolutions should be sent to both Senator Baker and Representative Nelson (see below for contact links).
Possible endorsing agencies, besides local government bodies, include:  Agricultural organizations  like 4H, Future Farmers of America, Master Gardeners, Cattlemen’s Association, Meat Sheep Alliance, Pastured Poultry Producers, Farmers Market Managers, Associations and their vendors, the local Ag program in your high school, Land-grant college associations/clubs, Beekeepers clubs, and others you may know about.  Other possible endorsing groups are groups that support environmental issues including preserving water quality, wildlife, open space and reducing the carbon foot print.  Other groups for endorsement are groups centered around food and food traditions like Slow Food, cooking clubs and other culinary groups.  If your group adopts a resolution or decides to support the legislation be sure to mention to the legislator that you represent so and so group which has xx amount of members.  There is POWER in NUMBERS.
Use the Talking Points document to mix and match paragraphs for letters to the editor, guest  editorials, your own blog, social networks like Facebook, letters to your Florida Representative  and Senator.  Feel free to change the wording so that it reflects your own personal opinion on  the matter.
Please be sure to send copies of petitions, endorsements, published letters to the editors, editorials, resolutions and all documentation supporting the passage of the Florida Food Freedom  Act to Senator Baker and Representative Nelson.  This will help them gain support from their peers.
Feel free to forward this entire package to concerned people in your network that want to buy locally-grown food and support family farmers, the environment, local food networks and the local economy.
It’s time to free Florida’s family farmers so that they can get food that they’ve grown direct to Floridians. Thank you for your help.
Contact Senator Baker: click here
Contact Representative Nelson: click here

Find the Florida Senator that represents you – all you have to know is your ZIP code: click here or

and click on the grey button that says “FIND YOUR REPRESENTATIVE” near the upper left corner of the page:

This is really important, so please take the time to read and follow up. Making your voice heard WILL have an impact. Consider these numbers:  in our Bee Heaven Farm CSA alone, we have over 500 current members. Our mailing list has over 3500 people in it. And each one of you have other connections – imagine the network! So spread the word and take action now. We will ALL benefit.
Margie's signature

Bee Heaven Farm ~ Redland Organics

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