If you thought my post yesterday was long, boring, and over the top you may want to stop reading now. Fair Warning!
HR 875- Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009
I received an email from MetroFarm this week that said:
House Bill 875, which is sponsored by Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), seeks to reduce or eliminate the danger of distance by establishing a new federal Food Safety Administration (FSA) that would superintend and regulate all food production facilities, from the smallest farms to the biggest processors. In other words, HB 875 would give the federal government dictatorial authority over the entire food chain of the USA.HB 875 and its Food Safety Administration (FSA)
• Binds all State and County Departments of Agriculture to federal authority
• Criminalizes alternative farming methods, such as “organic.”
• Superintends everyone who grows food, whether they sell it or not.
• Superintends the production of meat of any kind.
• Allows the FSA, or its agents, physical access to all farms.
• Allows the FSA, or its agents, to copy all farm documents.
• Forces farmers who sell direct to consumers to make their customer lists available to FSA, or its agents.
• Grants FSA, or its agents, authority to punish rule-breakers with fines of up to $1 million per day.
• Allows FSA to hire industry leaders to decide how program would be administered.
I have been reading a lot of people talking about this Bill and one of the comments I have heard is that lots of weird and extreme bills float around congress that does not mean they will pass. That is true, once people KNOW they are there and what they say and make a fuss to their congress people they are unlikely to pass. Unnoticed and unheeded, however, they can slip through and we end up with bills like Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 which have "unintended" consequences which might not be so unintended after all.
So I actually read HB 875 it says the following in it's 30 pages.
"Sec2.a.2 - Congress finds that lapses in the protection of the food supply... are damaging to consumers and the food industry, and place a burden on interstate commerce and international trade. " I really did not know my little CSA was that powerful!
"Sec2.a.4 - Congress finds that lapses in the protection of the food supply... the safety and security of the food supply require a systemwidde approach to preventing food born illness... and intensive, effective and efficient management of the Nation's food safety program. "Basically what the Bill aims to do (at least my understanding I am an farmer not a lawyer) is to create a new Agency "the Food Safety Amininistration" and give it control of regulating and policing our nations food supply.
The purpose of the act being, among others, to "regulate food safety and labeling to strengthen the protection of public health."
My reading of the bill seems to lead me to believe that it will make the "Home Produced" items allowed under Ohio law illegal. So say goodbye to breads, cookies, jams, jellies, and honey at your farmers market. In fact, you may have to say goodbye to the farmer's market itself. But I really want to focus this post on its impact on FARMS growing veggies so I will do that.
It seems to me that our farm will be regulated under the bill (sec 3.14) as a Food Production Facility "any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal feeding operation." In case you missed that let me restate. FARMS AND ORCHARDS are regulated the same as CAFOs! Nice.
Sec 206.a.1 gives the "Administrator" of the new FSA the right to visit and inspect food production facilities, set "good practice" standards, require records of food safety reports, conduct monitoring of plants, and collect information relevant to public health. Some say this would include a list of our customers and members.
They have the right to create regulations that (206.c.1) "consider all relevant hazards,including those occurring naturally." Read that as NO compost. And include regulations on (206.c.3) "growing, harvesting, sorting, and storage operations, minimum standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, hygiene, packing, temperature controls, animal encroachments, and water." Of course what these regulations will be are not yet developed. but you can put money on it that our procedure of pulling them out of the ground, washing the most dirty ones with a garden hose, and sorting them on a picnic table will not meet the requirements which will be designed for a full blown sorting house. Joe Salatin has written a lot about how similar regulations have effected small scale livestock producers. Will we, for instance, be required to have a bathroom in the "sorting house" and a separate one for the FSA inspector.
Failure to abide by any of the regulations could result in a fine of up to $1,000,000! (405.a.1.A) for each "act" that is not in compliance...
It is hard to say how this bill if passed would effect us. But many are suggesting that it would put most of the countries small farms out of business. I dare say it would.
There are three other bills also in congress right now... H.R. 814, S.R. 425 and H.B. 759 all of which will impact our food choices. I hope to discuss each of them in turn in the coming days...
(Sorry, I guess my farm blog is turning a bit political...)