I have had a lot of comments (an emails) from people about HR 875 so I wanted to clarify my points in a short post.
What does HR 875 NOT do...
- No where in the bill can I find anything about implementation of NAIS (National Animal Identification) system.
- Nowhere in the bill can I find anything that criminalizes backyard garden.
- It does not out law organics
- It does not mandate annual inspections of farms
- Establishes a new "FSA" - Food Safety Administration on par with the FDA.
- Defines farms as "Food Production Facility"
- Gives this new agency the right to create new regulations on processing, growing, harvesting, sorting, and storage operations of food
- Requires them to set minimum standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, hygiene, packing, temperature controls, animal encroachments, and water
- Require labeling of all food to allow traceability back to the farm
- Requires reporting from farms to the governments
- Specially define farm as a... well a farm! Which is why some are speculating that home gardens may be included. I find this pretty unlikely.
- Exempt small farms from any requirements. No where have I found any language that would set up a tiered regulation system where small farms would have a different set of regulations then large companies. That is a problem!
- Exempt home produced items from any requirements. They would be defined as "Category 4 Food Establishment." No where have I found any language that would set up a tiered regulation system for home produced items. In Ohio we have a pretty farmer friendly set of laws on home produced items. The law requires random at least quarterly inspections of Category 4 food establishments.
- Define what the regulations will be. This is the crux of the problem. We are setting up an framework that will allow new regulations to be set within an administration which will be on the level of the FDA. What will the regulations be today, and what will they be in 10 years? Will I be required to put a UPC type sticker on every item I grow, to comply with the tractability requirement? It is perhaps the most reasonable solution. UPCs cost about $60 a piece to set up. Then you need the stickers and all that. We are growing 100 varieties this year. That would be $6000 in coding fees. That is to comply with only one line of a 40 page piece of legislation. If I was a 400 acre farm growing 10 items my fee would be only $600. See the problem?
What do I suggest:
- Specially exempt farmers markets
- Exempt farms with less then $1,000,000 in annual sales
- Exempt Food establishments with less then $1,000,000 in annual sales
- Specifically define farms so home gardens are not included
- Establish a system of public comment on the regulation