Now the feds are coming after your garden with S510


Senate bill 510 is up for a vote in the US Senate today. Based on the pre-Thanksgiving cloture vote, it will likely sail through the Senate – but it shouldn’t.

This bill – originally co-sponsored by Utah’s Orrin Hatch, who then voted against cloture – sprang forth as a way for the government to “ensure” that our food supply is safe. After all, no one wants to be affected by salmonella or e-coli, right? Of course we don’t – but neither do we want the government turning us into a nanny state, regulating even our backyard gardens and our heirloom, seed-saving efforts.

S510 is one more example in a long line of bills extending the feds reach. This bill puts ALL food production – even from your own backyard – under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security. It’s a bit of a stretch to see how homegrown tomatoes are a threat to national security – but then again, these are the same people intent on humiliating people who fly with naked digital screening and intimate pat-downs.

While currently “allowing” you to eat the food you grow, S510 would cripple small farmers – including backyard farmers who want to sell their produce at the local farmer’s market. It gives the government blanket permission to stop food production and sales anytime, anywhere – no court order needed. The penalties are imprisonment and fines. The regulations are onerous and unrealistic applied to small operations. One example cited in “Food Safety News” demonstrates the difficulties this bill presents:

The FDA’s own guidance just published for processing cut leafy greens, which any local garden that prepares a salad mix for sale to local restaurants is potentially subject to, estimates that it would take a trained corporate team 100 hours to develop an appropriate safety plan, not to mention the cost of tests that such a plan would have to require. The husband-and-wife team likely operating a produce farm for a local food market, in addition to their off-farm jobs, don’t have a spare two-and-a-half weeks to create a plan, let alone the expertise of a team of food technologists, lawyers and engineers necessary to come up with a plan in 100 hours.

Turning raw milk producers into felons and small organic farmers into “seed smugglers,” this bill is a move to destroy the small farmer that is the heart and soul of America’s “bread basket.” Instead, monopalistic companies like Monsanto will grow even larger and control even more of the world food – and seed – supply. Genetically modified food and seed, that is. Bad seed must be rooted out.

The FDA has a list it calls “sources of seed contamination” has now defined “seed” as a “food.” Our seeds can now be controlled through “food safety” – and with this bill, the FDA sets out requirements for “seed cleaning” – a process that could easily cost a million dollars in structure and equipment to meet the new standards.

Assurances of “that’s not what we mean” or simply “trust us” ring a little hollow, don’t you think?

You can call your Senators offices and let them know how you feel. Senator Bob Bennett’s number is 202-224-5444 and Senator Orrin Hatch’s number is 202-224-5251. Both voted against cloture.


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18 Responses to “Now the feds are coming after your garden with S510”

  1. Don Says:

    I think that it is sad (as of right now) not a single Democrate voted against it, and that only 16 decided not to vote (which is ridiculous that you even can “decide” not to do your job) and that 51 of the 57 votes for the bill are from Dems, they obviously didn’t get the memo.

    So I suppose the question now is how do we get rid of this monsant-rostrosity meant to crush small non GMO agriculture.

  2. rmwarnick Says:

    The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act allows FDA more authority to prevent contamination and food-borne illness outbreaks. It would give the FDA mandatory recall authority, require food producers to have qualifying plans in place for identifying and addressing safety risks, and requires importers to verify the safety of all imported foods.

    The Bush administration radically de-regulated the food industry, with the result that we had a series of deadly incidents involving contaminated foods such as spinach, tomatoes and eggs. It’s stupid to attack this bill. Shame on Senator Hatch for abandoning his own proposal.

  3. Monsanto and SB 510 | Says:

    […] about it today is because the conversation is coming to the garden in a back yard near you.  HollyonTheHill wrote today about Senate Bill 510 which threatens our ability to govern the back yard food we […]

  4. Krista Black Says:

    This is such a cross-over issue for me: private property meets deregulation and food safety. And, we all just love to hate Monsanto.

    Check out my blog on the business of it.

  5. Gregory Says:


    We do love to blame everything on Bush, don’t we?

    You seem to be asserting that this legislation is needed to “restore” food safety to pre Bush levels.

    Can you provide any references equating this level of regulation to those existing prior to the Bush years?

    I’d also be interested in evidence that the Bush “deregulation” of the food industry is responsible for a “series of deadly incidents involving contaminated foods”. Can you find any scientific studies (not political op-eds) that indicate that these incidents would not have occurred without the deregulation or that the incidents have increased since the deregulation?

  6. John Says:

    The problem is how there isn’t more local farming, local produce, local food. It’s Big Food lobbyists getting Congress to pass laws to stamp out all other competition.

  7. John Says:

    Too late.

  8. rmwarnick Says:

    What the Bush administration did has been called “stealth deregulation.” Bush appointed insiders from the regulated industries to slash budgets, weaken the rules, and hamper enforcement. Most of this happened behind closed doors.

    Let’s restore the regulatory power we need to protect our health and safety. This is about the big corporations, not backyard gardening. As everyone knows.

  9. John Says:

    Someone told me there was a late provison to the bill that excludes persons or companies that make less than $500,000 a year…

  10. Don Says:

    it’s be another one of those lets pass it to see as now they have to reconcile the bills that passed the house and the senate.

    I hoped for the small farm amendment, but most of the supporters in the Senate threatened to pull support if that amendment made it.

    There are already laws and regulation that should have stopped the egg problem. Very similar regulation in California has decimated the almond industry from what I understand, which came about as a result of poor practices by the mega almond farms.

  11. reffaree Says:

    I’d rather have “BIG BUSINESS” in charge over BIG Bubbament, (AKA Crime Inc. ) to make decisions that GREATLY impact my EVERYDAY life. At least Big Business Creates PROFITS and Jobs with their decisions unlike the corrupt Administration we are currently being subjected to who pander to SPECIAL INTERESTS like Monsanto. (of which your messiah promised to Remove from DC incase your feeble mind has forgotten) You and your progressive Ilk will be the death of AMERICA if you continue to create the NANNY state you seem to want to live under. If you want to live in a socialist NANNY state, why dont you move to MEHIKKKO? I;m sure they have safe food there dbag.

  12. Pops Says:

    We get in trouble when we create mechanisms whereby big business can gain leverage in the marketplace by influencing Congress and regulatory agencies with big bucks. To give FDA sweeping power like this is to invite corruption and distortion of the marketplace, to say nothing of the nitpicking, foolish, and counterproductive regulations inevitably produced by bureaucrats with nothing better to do. The solution is to remove government as a player. Regulatory functions can be performed better by the private sector. Underwriters Laboratories is an example of how it can work.

  13. JBT Says:

    What nonsense! Fear and paranoia regarding the Federal Government has risen to a new level. Way to go Holly. You have outdone yourself on this one. Please let us all know when the Federal agents come to your backyard garden and start taking samples.

    If you don’t like to be ridiculed, then I advise you stop writing things that are ridiculous.

  14. hollyonthehill Says:

    JBT, instead of spending your time mocking conservatives, maybe you could some of it doing research. If you did, you would find that much of the opposition to this bill came from the liberal left. You know – the save-the-environment, locavores, grow your own herbs kind of people. The skepticism regarding the federal government and its overreach is not partisan.
    And by the way – no one forces you to read this blog. I’m quite comfortable in what I write, thank you.

  15. Pops Says:

    As George Washington correctly stated, “Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. Government is force; like fire it is a dangerous servant — and a fearful master.” Fear and paranoia regarding the Federal Government are necessary for the preservation of liberty. Thanks, Holly, for helping to keep us up to speed with what the government is up to.

  16. JBT Says:

    Just let us know when the Federal Boogeymen slip into your backyard at night and take samples of the zucchini that you share with members of your ward.

    By the way I love your blog, not for the information which is most often slanted, biased, based on half truths, and inaccurate—but for the sheer entertainment value of your hyperbole.

  17. rmwarnick Says:

    All the hand-waving, the over-the-top Glenn Beck freakout etc. turns out to be based on a not-so-clever ploy by corporate agribusiness lobbyists to kill the bill in the Senate by making the same regulations apply to small farmers.

    The lobbyists were defeated by amendments from Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Jon Tester (D-MT).

  18. Pops Says:

    So-called liberals, socialists, and progressives disbelieve the corrupting influence of power on those holding power. It is a sad fact of human nature. If not for it, we could safely grant all power to the federal government, or to a king or dictator, and all would be well. But that is not reality. There is a fine line between a federal government with too little power and one with too much power, and we passed that line long ago.

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