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***FL - ACTION ALERT***

Support Florida Food Freedom Act

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR FLORIDA’S FAMILY FARMS
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. Passage of the Florida Food Freedom Act  promises to bring Floridians a wider variety of healthy, locally-grown foods direct from the Florida farmer. But we need your help. Click on the following links toaid you in lending your voice in support of Florida family farmers:

BACKGROUND 

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 sponsoring legislation in this legislative session(S 1900 status). They need your support.

ACTION TO TAKE

Here’s how you can help:

1.  Read the proposed Florida Food Freedom Act (S 1900)  – it simply alters existing Florida Statues to better define the distribution chain [strikethrough shows the old words and proposes eliminating those words; underlining indicates 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. Under the bill, farmers who sell products produced on the farm direct to the end consumer are exempt from licensure. 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 sell eggs or chicken directly to the consumer.  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.

2.  Call and write your Florida Representative and Senator asking them to support the Florida Food Freedom Act.

3.  Use the Talking Points to write letters to the editor, guest editorials, your own blog, social networks like Facebook, etc. Feel free to change the wording so that it reflects your own personal opinion on the matter.

4.  Send copies to Sen. Baker and Rep. Nelson of petitions, endorsements, published letters to the editors, editorials, resolutions and all documentation supporting the passage of the Florida Food Freedom Act. This will help them gain support from their peers.

5.  Forward this action alert to people in your network who want to buy locally-grown food and support family farmers, the environment, local food networks and the local economy.

6.  Educate and ask groups you belong to endorse the Act either by

  • passing a Resolution [see the model S1900 Resolution] or by
  • sending their Florida Senate and House representatives letters and emails supporting the legislation. 

Send copies of endorsed Resolutions and letters to both Sen. Baker and Rep. Nelson (contact info to follow).

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.

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.

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Information to contact Florida legislators

FLORIDA SENATE

Senator Baker’s contact info:  Link

Short link to webpage - http://bit.ly/FL_SenCareyBaker_2010

Email address - baker.carey.web@flsenate.gov

Find the Florida Senator that represents you - all you have to know is your ZIP code:  Link

Short link - http://bit.ly/FindyourFL_StateSenator

FLORIDA HOUSE

Representative Nelson’s contact info: Link

Short link to webpage - http://bit.ly/FL_RepBryanNelson

Find the Florida Representative that represents you – click on the grey button that says “FIND YOUR REPRESENTATIVE” near the upper left corner of the page: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/representatives.aspx

Short link - http://bit.ly/FindyourFL_StateRep

 

Last edited 02/26/10