Urge Your Congressmen to Protect Raw Milk & Local Foods
Representative Joseph Pitts (PA-16th District), exerts a lot of influence over any federal legislation related to food because he is the Chair of the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. The Health Subcommittee has jurisdiction over bills addressing foods and drugs, as well as public health.
There are two bills currently in the Energy & Commerce Committee that would have major impacts on raw milk and local foods: HR 1830 (a good bill that would legalize interstate sales of raw milk) and S. 216 (a potentially dangerous bill that would give FDA power to put farmers in jail).
If you live in the 16th District, please meet with Congressman Pitts during the Congressional Recess (June 27 - July 5).
Please forward this Alert to anyone you know who lives in the 16th District so they can Take Action to protect raw milk and local food.
GOOD NEWS: H.R.1830
House Bill HR 1830, introduced by Congressman Ron Paul, would authorize the interstate commerce of raw milk and raw milk products for human consumption.
HR 1830 would reverse the FDA's current regulations that prohibit the interstate transport of raw milk for human consumption. The FDA has harassed raw milk farmers across the country under its current regulations - most recently, engaging in a year-long sting operation of Pennsylvania Amish farmer Dan Allgyer.
Read the agency's outrageous response to FTCLDF's Lawsuit against FDA.
Send a Fax to your Legislators through the online petition to Support HR 1830.
BAD NEWS: S.216
Senate Bill S.216, introduced by Senator Leahy and passed the Senate this spring, would empower FDA to impose criminal penalties.
S.216 is much narrower than the bill introduced by Senator Leahy last year, but it still leaves FDA significant discretion to impose criminal penalties even if no one is actually harmed. Specifically, S.216 would provide criminal penalties and up to 10 years of jail time for persons who "knowingly and intentionally to defraud or mislead" adulterate or misbrand food "with conscious or reckless disregard of a risk of death or serious bodily injury."
While this may sound reasonable - and certainly the factory farm producers who intentionally sell dangerous food should be prosecuted -- the problem lies in how it could be applied by FDA. The bill doesn't define "adulterated" and "misbranded" foods, but refers to the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act, which has extremely broad definitions for these terms.
Ultimately, the FDA will be empowered to decide what conduct constitutes a "reckless disregard of a risk of serious bodily injury." This is the agency that considers drinking raw milk to be playing Russian Roulette with your health.
The FDA has repeatedly turned a blind eye to the problems at large industrial-scale plants, consistently placing the interests of Big Pharma and Big Food over the public interest. At the same time, the agency targets small-scale raw milk farmers, raw cheese producers, and natural health foods suppliers. Until and unless FDA closes the revolving door between it and industry and uses its existing powers responsibly, it should not be given additional power to criminalize producers.
Congress will be recessed from June 27 through July 5, and the members will be back in their home districts. This is a great time to meet with Congressman Pitts in person!
He needs to hear from you, his constituents, about how FDA is abusing its existing powers and the need for Congress to rein in the agency.
Congressman Pitts has district offices in Unionville and Lancaster. Call the office closest to you, and ask to meet with the Congressman while he is in the District. If the Congressman's schedule is full, be willing to accept a meeting with the staffer.
You can also ask if the Congressman is attending any town halls or other events in your area, where you may be able to speak with him/her briefly in addition to covering your concerns in more depth with the staffer. Whatever the method, it's important to put a face - specifically, a constituent's face - to the issue.
Since Congressional districts do not align perfectly with zip codes, you can double-check that you are a constituent of Congressman Pitts by going to his website at
Chester County Office:
Post Office Box 837
Unionville, PA 19375
(Routes 82 and 926)
Lancaster County Office:
150 North Queen Street
Suite 716 (7th floor)
Lancaster, PA 17603
If you get a meeting arranged, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. That way, if others in your area also want to meet with the Congressman, we can let them know and connect you.
MORE INFORMATION -
MEETING YOUR CONGRESSMAN
Scheduling a meeting
1. Contact the office closest to you. Introduce yourself, including the fact that you're a constituent.Tell the staffer that you would like to meet in person with the Congressman to discuss an issue relating to the agriculture appropriations bill. You may get transferred to a scheduler or asked to put the request in writing.
2. If the response is that the Congressman's schedule is full, be willing to accept a meeting with the staffer.
3. You can also ask if the Congressman is attending any town halls or other events in your area, where you may be able to speak with him/her briefly in addition to covering your concerns in more depth with the staffer.
Before the meeting
1. Plan who will come to the meeting.Keep the group small, no more than 3 or 4 people.
2. Plan what points each of you will cover to use your time most effectively. We'll provide you with materials ahead of time, and we can talk with you on the phone in more depth. Call 703-208-3276 or email email@example.com
3. Dress professionally and arrive early.
During the meeting
1. Introduce yourself, remind the Representative or staffer that you are constituents, and mention that you are members of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund.
2. Be succinct and clear about the issue. Start by explaining briefly why raw milk is important to you (plan a few sentences ahead of time - but keep it to a couple of minutes). If you know a farmer who has had problems with the FDA, briefly explain what happened.If not, explain how the threat of FDA harassment affects you.Focus on the aspects that you know best and are most comfortable with.
3. Be prepared to educate him or her about raw milk.Don't be afraid to say "I don't know" and offer to follow up with more information after the meeting.
4. Get a card, so that you can contact the staffers again directly.
After the meeting
1. Write a thank you note. Email or fax is fine.
2. Send us your impressions of the meeting, so that we know where your Representative stands and can follow-up as well.
16th DISTRICT MAP
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City of Reading
Wards 2, 3 (Division 1), 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 (Division 2), 10, 11, 12, 13 Divisions 1 and 2) 14 (Division 4), 15 and 19 (Division 2)
Bern (District 3),
Lower Heidelberg, Muhlenberg (District 6, 9),
South Heidelberg (Precinct 1, 3) and
Spring (District 8).
CHESTER COUNTY: Townships:
East Bradford District South (Division 1),
London Grove, Londonberry,
West Marlborough, and
West Chester, and