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The Coastal Packet

The longtime national journal, Progressive Review, has moved its headquarters from Washington DC to Freeport, Maine, where its editor, Sam Smith, has long ties. This is a local edition dealing with Maine news and progressive politics.

7/28/09

Tuesday July 28

NEW LAW COULD HURT SMALL FARMS

Supermarket News - During the past few years, the growing popularity of local foods has been a boon to both supermarkets and independent farmers. . . But, a lot of small farmers are concerned about a bill being debated in the House this month - H.R. 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009.

If passed in its current form, the bill would give the Food and Drug Administration new authority to oversee on-farm production activities, and would expand the FDA's authority to quarantine geographic areas for certain foods when illness outbreaks occur, among other powers.

The bill does not distinguish between large farms and small ones, and those fees, penalties and new requirements become more and more onerous the smaller the farming operation.

While the bill has been amended since it first appeared in June, directing the FDA "to take into consideration, consistent with ensuring enforceable public health protection, the impact on small-scale and diversified farms," the new requirements would still seem to apply to all farmers that performed even the most minimal processing on-site, such as washing greens, making jams or preserves, or simply cutting fruits or vegetables.

When it comes to food safety, small farms are not the problem. If an independent grower takes a load of spinach to a farmers' market in Kansas, and that spinach makes 10 people sick, it's unfortunate, but it's hardly a crisis. . .

Small farms cause small outbreaks when they cause them at all. Big farms, big packers and big processors are the only operations with the scale to cause the big problems that these new regulations would purport to solve. . .

THE MAINE STREAM

Today's taser story
comes from Mobile Alabama, where the cop toy was used on a deaf and mentally disabled man who refused to leave a store's restroom. . . And just to make sure this sort of cruelty can continue, Taser has come up with a stun gun that can be fired three times without reloading. Fourteen thousand police agencies across the country can hardly wait.

Do Maine tourism officials know about this?. . . Vacation Bible School will be held at the Carthage Seventh Day Adventist Church from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, Aug. 3 to 7, for ages 5 to 13. Helpers are welcome. The theme is "Vacation Beach Bible School," comparing Maine coast beaches with the beaches on the Sea of Galilee. Classes will walk in the footsteps of Jesus by the sea, hear Bible stories, make sand and shell crafts and build wooden boats. Recreation will include beach volleyball and sailing boats. Each day will end with a picnic lunch.

Roses to Derrick Tyler, 10, of Searsmont who caught over 2 inches of large mouth bass for each year of his life.

A camp for adults at the Medomak Retreat Center. . . Morning Sentinel:
Maine is home to a host of summer camps for adults. Some focus on interests or hobbies, whether it's yoga, dance or music. Others cater to particular groups, like women over 50, disabled adults or gay campers.
The Dempseys and Knox were at Medomak Retreat Center last week for an ecology camp called "Reading the Landscape." They stayed in a rustic cabin -- albeit one with its own bathroom facilities -- ate in the dining room with other campers and were able to take part in quintessential camp activities such as morning polar dips, nature hikes and campfires. . . Medomak welcomed its adult campers with a reception featuring Maine beers and cheese, appointments were available with a massage therapist and the food was upgraded to the likes of dilled salmon for one meal and falafel with fixings for another.

In seven fields, a deadly blueberry fungus has been spotted. Says a blueberry pathologist at UM, ""I'm extremely worried, very, very worried. This could really be devastating."

Foster's Daily Democrat - Environmental officials in New Hampshire and Maine say the red tide bloom is on its way out after first appearing along the parts of the region in early May. "It's only in the last week or so that we started to see things go down," said Darcie Couture, director of the biotoxins monitoring program at the Maine Department of Marine Resources. "We're on the downhill side of the bloom right now." The brunt of the red tide was felt by mid-June, when 97 percent of Maine's coastline was off limits to shellfishing. The worst of it is normally felt before then and "in typical years we already start seeing it dissipate by now or weeks ago," Couture said.

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