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***PA - ACTION ALERT***
Stop PA Proposed Regulations

October 4, 2010

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) has issued proposed dairy regulations that would severely impact the ability of raw milk producers in the state to make a living.

On Thursday October 7, the Pennsylvania Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) will meet in Harrisburg to vote on whether to approve the proposed regulations.

If the IRRC does vote to approve, the regulations will become law. These regulations must be stopped.

With 136 licensed raw dairy farms and 40 applications pending, Pennsylvania is "America's raw dairyland."

Even if you don't live in Pennsylvania, you need to weigh in on this issue. You can let the IRRC know that you are a raw milk activist in your state and that you care about this issue because PA is a model raw milk state for the rest of the nation and what happens in PA could eventually impact other states.

TAKE ACTION

1. Email or Fax IRRC by the deadline tomorrow morning Tuesday, October 5th at 10:00 a.m. Eastern. Advise the IRRC that you oppose the proposed the milk regulations and request that they vote to DISAPPROVE "proposed regulation #2777 Department of Agriculture 2-160."
Email: [email protected]
Fax: (717)783-2664

CAUTION: If you travel across state lines into Pennsylvania to obtain raw milk, that is a private matter and it is recommended that you NOT mention this to IRRC. There is an ongoing dispute over laws pertaining to the interstate transport of raw milk. Visit Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund for more information about the lawsuit filed against FDA over raw milk in interstate commerce.

2. Attend the October 7 meeting and make your voice heard. The IRRC meeting will be held at:
14th Floor Conference Room
333 Market Street
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
10:00 a.m. Eastern

If you speak at the meeting, limit your remarks to five (5) minutes. Please provide ten (10) copies of any comments you are making for the Commissioners and the Commission staff.

BACKGROUND

There are two particularly onerous requirements in the proposed regulations. First, the regulations would require a mechanical bottling machine for producers; with a limited exception, handcapping would be prohibited.

Second, bottling, single-service container storage, and bottle washing must be done in rooms other than the milk room; currently, many raw milk producers in Pennsylvania bottle and handcap in the milk room and would have to incur the expense of constructing a separate room. Moreover, bottle washing would not be allowed in the room devoted to bottling and container storage.

These proposed regulations have nothing to do with protecting the public health but instead subject raw milk producers to unnecessary expenses that will make it financially difficult to continue in business.

Please take action to prevent this damaging proposal from becoming law.

What follows is an action alert sent by Tom Maurer, the president of CARE (Communities Alliance for Responsible Eco-agriculture), which includes a sample letter to IRRC:


Those of you who know me, heard me speak or read things I've written, know that I believe that we will lose our food choices if we merely buy the food items we like and ask someone else to take the risks and protect those rights. We all need to work to protect those rights, whenever the opportunity presents itself. We are at one of those points right now that requires your immediate action. It would be nice if we had more time but things are what they are.

This Thursday the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) will hear "closing arguments" on the proposed revised dairy regulations, including the sections dealing with raw milk. We are past the discussion stage. The next step will be a yes or no vote by the IRRC. A number of groups supporting raw milk have expended considerable time, energy and other resources commenting on and trying to get changes made to the proposed regulations. While I certainly do not question their motives, the results of those efforts have not corrected the major deficiencies and in the overall scheme of things produced only trivial changes. Go to the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) at http://pasafarming.org/our-work/advocacy or at www.irrc.state.pa.us for a copy of the proposed regulations.

The proposed regulation adds additional hurdles and costs to raw milk producers under the guise of public health and safety, some problematic enough to possibly put some farmers out of business. It is a waste of time to debate the true intent of these regulations. If someone shoots and kills you, the fact that they didn't intend to doesn't make you less dead. The issue at hand is that these regulations must be stopped. This is what you need to do!! First, email a letter to the IRRC by 10:00 AM, Tuesday, October 5th, expressing your desire that they reject the proposed regulation. Please make it forceful but civil. A sample email follows:


My name is _________________, I am a raw milk consumer and I respectfully request that you reject proposed regulation #2777 Department of Agriculture 2-160: Milk Sanitation. I am an intelligent, discriminating consumer and do not need protection from my farmer-neighbor or local market or store. If they provide an unsatisfactory product or fail to appropriately correct a problem they will be out of business quickly. At that level, State regulation does not and cannot provide a higher level policing; every consumer polices that supplier with every transaction and has direct enforcement options. Where we need government involvement is where the suppliers or markets are no longer our neighbors but rather corporations created by the State. Food safety is not size neutral. Larger operations are more complex, problems have much more far-reaching impacts and we have no direct meaningful recourse if there is a problem. The regulation needs to focus on those operations.

Although some regulations on this latter group are necessary, the regulation could be much simpler if they were performance standards, requiring that the end product achieves a desired result. How that result is achieved is the producers' responsibility, not the State's. That would result in the State's role being to test for compliance, a function that could easily be contracted out, rather than inserting itself in micromanaging the operation.

Again, I view the proposed regulation as excessive, and in some cases onerous and unnecessary. These flaws warrant that the proposed regulation be rejected.


Second, the hearing for this regulation will be at 10 AM, Thursday, October 7th in the 14th floor conference room, 333 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA. I know this is short notice, but if you are from Pennsylvania and can possibly fit it into your schedule, please attend. This is a critical issue in the fight to regain control of our food and food choices. You can make a difference. And if your food is important to you, you need to let that be known loud and clear.

Over our lifetime, we all get many opportunities. Successful people are those who (1) recognize an opportunity and (2) recognize that opportunities don't always appear when it's convenient and (3) are flexible enough to take advantage of the opportunity. This is one of those opportunities.

Respectfully,
Tom Maurer

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