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Florida Food Freedom Act - Talking Points
Click below for a copy that includes background facts and sources:
Commonality of messaging will be very important when speaking to legislators about the Florida Food Freedom Act. The state legislature has adopted “guiding principles” for legislation in 2010. These principles are the statements in bold below. Make sure to hit on these points when discussing the bill with elected officials or writing editorials to your local newspaper.
CREATES A REGULATORY ENVIRONMENT THAT FOSTERS ECONOMIC GROWTH AND JOB CREATION.
Family farms and farmland are decreasing in Florida. The economic, environmental and community impact of dwindling Florida family farms affects every citizen. The Florida Food Freedom Act (S 1900) proposed by Senator Carey Baker helps alleviate excessive permitting requirements on family farms and will in turn grow jobs and strengthen local economies.
There is a strong demand for locally produced agricultural commodities. This is evidenced by an increase of farmers markets, farm-to-school projects and community supported agriculture programs. According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, the number of Florida farms selling directly to the end consumer increased by 78% from 2002 to 2007. Additionally, the value of agricultural products sold by these farms increased by $7 million from 2002 to 2007.
The Florida Food Freedom Act will allow 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 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.
The Florida Food Freedom Act also opens up opportunities for agri-tourism and other new enterprises for Florida family farms. The Act sparks the entrepreneurial spirit, rather than squashing it with burdensome regulations and fees. Those new entrepreneurial businesses will make Florida a more attractive place for tourists as well as residents and open up new jobs. When consumers are able to shop for food with local businesses and farmers, more of that dollar stays in the local community, providing what is known as the local multiplier effect of money. Buying local keeps money in the local community and helps farms and ranches remain economically viable. For every dollar spent with a local company (or farmer) 45 cents stays in the community. For every dollar spent with a corporate chain, only 15 cents is reinvested in the local community.
This frees up funding and staffing for Florida food safety inspection and permitting agencies and opens up opportunities for Florida family farmers to create new local businesses and create jobs, as well as feed the growing demand for locally grown food.
PROMOTE PUBLIC SAFETY.
Food safety is a priority shared by all. It is not compromised by the growing trend toward healthy, fresh, locally sourced vegetables, meats, and small processing firms that are reinvigorating local food systems. Family farm businesses are not the same as commodity-based agriculture that sell products into industrial-scale national and international markets. Regulations are needed for industrial processors that get raw ingredients from multiple locations (sometimes imported from other countries) and ship their products across the country.
The biggest threats to food safety–and the USDA agrees–are centralized production, centralized processing, and long distance transportation. Small farms and local food processors are part of the solution to food safety. Raising meat, dairy, eggs, fruits, and vegetables as close as possible to the kitchens of the end-user increases our food security. Lessening the regulatory burden imposed by the State of Florida will enhance the economic condition of family farms, improve public health, decrease environmental degradation and build a sense of community. Local food systems are inherently safer and more traceable.
Additionally, the Florida Food Freedom Act requires all people selling directly to the end consumer to become certified food protection managers. This certification is required of all food service managers in Florida who are responsible for the storage, preparation, display, or serving of foods to the public. This course gives basic, sound food handling information that further strengthens the producer’s food safety procedures.
PROTECT FLORIDA’S NATURAL BEAUTY.
Saving farmland and allowing Florida family farms to sell local food can also help the environment by reducing a meal’s “food miles” or the distance it travels to reach the consumers’ plate and the energy consumed in getting there. Produce from a supermarket travels 92 times farther than locally-grown produce. Farm and ranch lands provide food and cover for wildlife, help control flooding, protect wetlands and watersheds and maintain air quality. They can absorb and filter wastewater and provide groundwater recharge. The Florida Food Freedom Act helps to preserve Florida’s farmland by providing a viable economic opportunity for Florida family farmers. This in turn, will also help preserve Florida’s wildlife, wetlands and watersheds.
When Florida family farmers are free to produce and sell food directly to the consumer, then the farm becomes more sustainable and the farmer is less likely to sell the farmland into development. This provides the farmer’s local community with a sounder tax base, improves the local economy, and helps improve the environment
Preserving farmland helps local governments prosper as well. The cost of public services used by open land or farmland is much lower than the cost of public services provided to land used for residential purposes. The median cost for every dollar of revenue raised (taxes collected) for working/open land use is just 36 cents in public services. On the other hand, for every dollar residential land use provides in taxes, it uses $1.16 in public services. A community can more easily balance the budget when it has more farmland.
Last edited 02/26/10