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The Dangers of the Federal Takeover of Food Legislations - Bill HR-875


Business  (tags: small farms, food sustainability, business, consumers, raw milk, nutrition, food safety )

Roseann
- 3477 days ago - ftcldf. org
This bill would put many small farmers out of business, set minimal nutrition standards, and wipe out the raw milk industry - Higher food costs, lower nutrition, weaker immune systems = more unhealthy people. Hearing today!



   

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Roseann d (178)
Wednesday March 11, 2009, 12:27 pm
On February 4, 2009 Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) introduced the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 (HR 875), a bill that would establish the Food Safety Administration (FSA) within the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). HR 875 represents a tremendous expansion of federal power, particularly the power to regulate intrastate commerce. While the proposed legislation tries to address the many problems of the industrial food system, the impact on small farms if the bill becomes law would be substantial and not for the better. HR 875 is a major threat to sustainable farming and the local food movement. [Click here for the text: PDF or MS Word or HTML]

The bill would transfer the functions and resources of several divisions within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), such as the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) and the Center for Veterinary Medicine into FSA. The National Marine Fisheries Service in the Department of Commerce would be transferred over to FSA as well. [Section 102(b)]

Under HR 875 the FSA, among other responsibilities, is charged to regulate food safety and labeling [Section 2(1)(A)] and to “lead an integrated, system-wide approach to food safety and to make more effective and efficient use of resources to prevent foodborne illness” [Section 2(1)(C)]. Other purposes of the Act are to modernize and strengthen federal food safety law and “to establish that food establishments have responsibility to ensure that all stages of production, processing, and distribution of their products or products under their control satisfy the requirements” of federal food safety law[Section 2(3),(4)]. Under the bill, farms are designated as ‘food production facilities’ [Section 3(14)]. Farms are also subject to all laws in the Act applying to food establishments except that they do not have to register with the FSA as most other food establishments are required to do [Section 3(13)(b)]. A “food establishment”, according to the bill, means “a slaughterhouse (except those regulated under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act), factory, warehouse, or facility owned or operated by a person located in any State that processes food or a facility that holds, stores, or transports food or food ingredients” [Section 3(13)(A)].

HR 875 charges the administrator of FSA with developing a national food safety program to protect the public health [Section 201(a)(1)]. In carrying out the program, the administrator must “adopt and implement a national system for regular unannounced inspection of food establishments” [Section 201(c)(2)]. With respect to ‘food production facilities’ (farms), FSA is given the power by the bill to visit and inspect them to determine that they are operating in compliance with the food safety law [Section 206(a)(1)]–under HR 875 ‘food safety law’ refers to provisions of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, provisions of the Public Health Services Act, and the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 itself [Section 3(15)]. In addition, the agency would have the power to have access to and copy all records maintained by farms in order to be able to (1) determine whether the food is contaminated, adulterated or otherwise not in compliance with the food safety law or (2) track the food in commerce [Sections 206(b)]. Under Section 210 of the bill which is entitled “Traceback Requirements”, FSA is charged with establishing a national traceability system that requires farmers to keep records that enable FSA to track “the history, use, and location of an item of food” [Section 210(c)]. Farmers selling direct to consumers would have to make their customer list available to federal inspectors. The bill orders FSA to be consistent with existing statutes and regulations that “require recordkeeping or labeling for identifying the origin or history of food or food animals.” Interestingly, the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) is mentioned as some of the existing laws that the administrator should review even though there actually is no federal statute or regulation in place that mandates any part of NAIS [Section 210(d)(1)]. HR 875 cites NAIS as being authorized by the Animal Health Protection Act (AHPA) even though there is no mention of it anywhere in the AHPA [Section 210(d)(2)].

The food traceability records are not the only written documentation farmers are to supply FSA under the terms of the bill. HR 875 mandates that FSA issue regulations that “require each food production facility to have a written food safety plan that describes the likely hazards and preventive controls implemented to address those hazards” [Section 206(c)(2)]. If such a regulation does in fact call for a HACCP plan (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, ’Hass-sepp’), farmers will be required to do the following in developing a plan for their farming operation:

Conduct a hazard analysis (e.g., list the pathogens that could be present in the farming operation);
Determine the critical control points (e.g., identify points in the operation where pathogens would most likely be present or could be introduced);
Establish critical limits;
Establish monitoring procedures;
Establish corrective actions;
Establish verification procedures; and
Establish record-keeping and documentation procedures.
FSA’s rulemaking authority includes extensive power to regulate farming practices as well. HR 875 requires the agency to issue regulations that establish ”minimum standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animal encroachment, and water” with respect to “growing, harvesting, sorting, and storage operations” [Section 206(c)(3)]; and, “with respect to animals raised for food”, the regulations are to establish “minimum standards related to the animal’s health, feed, and environment which bear on the safety of food for human consumption” [Section 206(c)(4)].

All the requirements outlined above apply even if the farm is engaged in only intrastate commerce. Under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act (FFDCA), FDA could only inspect farms that produce food for introduction into interstate commerce [21 USC 374]. Under HR 875, no nexus to interstate commerce is needed for a farm to be within FSA’s jurisdiction. The increased federal inspection power will have an impact particularly on those facilities slaughtering meat and poultry that are currently subject to minimal or no regulation by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

HR 875 designates any facility slaughtering animals not subject to inspection under either the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act as a Category 1 food establishment [Section 3(5)–there are five categories of food establishments designated by the bill]. Such facilities are to be inspected on a daily basis and shall be subject to “antemortem, postmortem, and continuous inspection of each slaughter line during all operating hours” [Section 205(b)(1)]. Custom slaughterhouses and those farms processing poultry, officially and unofficially, under the federal exemption granted by Public Law 90-492 would now not be able to slaughter unless an FSA inspector is present. A common complaint among those using USDA-certified slaughterhouses is that there are not enough inspectors available to be present to oversee slaughtering in facilities under federal jurisdiction.

The federal government’s expanded power to regulate commerce under the bill would place the legality of the sale or other distribution of raw milk in intrastate commerce in jeopardy. FDA has long wanted a complete ban on the sale of raw milk. The agency’s mantra is that raw milk should not be consumed by anyone at any time for any reason. The agency does not consider this subject to be debatable and refuses to send representatives to any conference concerning the safety of raw milk when they know anyone with an opposing viewpoint will be present. At the 2005 National Conference on Interstate Milk Shipments (NCIMS), FDA supported a resolution calling for all States to prohibit the intrastate sale of raw milk. Under HR 875, FSA is given the statutory authority to unilaterally impose a ban.

Under HR 875, FSA has the power to adopt “preventative process controls to reduce adulteration of food” [Section 203]. Under Section 203, FSA is to issue regulations that “limit the presence and growth of contaminants in food prepared in a food establishment using the best reasonably available techniques and technologies” [Section 203(b)(1)(D)]. FDA has long made it clear that in its opinion the best available technology to limit contamination in milk is pasteurization.

In the event FSA does not issue a regulation establishing a ban, raw milk producers can expect regular, unannounced visits from inspectors. Under HR 875, farms processing raw milk are designated as Category 2 food establishments [Section 3(6)]. Category 2 food establishments are to be “randomly inspected at least weekly” [Section 205(b)(2)(B)]–those farms producing eggs not subject to the Federal Egg Products Inspection Act have also been designated Category 2 food establishments (at this time, many of these farms are subject to neither state nor federal regulation). The inspector paying a visit to the raw milk producer will have had training based on a curriculum developed by the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) [Section 305(b)]. AFDO’s position on raw milk is that all milk should be pasteurized.

FSA’s power to enforce the food safety law is considerable. The administrator can assess civil penalties of up to one million dollars for each violation [Section 405(a)(1)(A)]. Each day during which the violation continues is considered a separate offense [Section 405(a)(1)(B)]. The criminal sanctions are severe as well. If a violation with respect to an adulterated or misbranded food results in serious illness, the perpetrator can be imprisoned for up to five years [Section 401(b)(1)]; if the same results in death, the penalty can be up to ten years [Section 401(b)(2)]. In addition, the FSA has expanded authority to seize, detain and condemn food [Section 402(A)(1) & (C)(1)] . Under the FFDCA, FDA could only execute these powers pursuant to a court order [21 USC 334(a)].

There is every incentive for FSA to levy fines under the bill. HR 875 provides that fines collected by the agency shall be deposited in an account in the treasury [Section 405(e)(1)]. FSA “may use the funds in the account without further appropriation or fiscal year limitation . . . to carry out enforcement activities under the food safety law” [Section 405(e)(2)(A)]. The agency may also use the funds in the account “to provide assistance to States to inspect retail commercial food establishments or other food or firms under the jurisdiction of State food safety programs” [Section 405(e)(2)(B)]; this would give the States reason to support the bill despite the fact that it dilutes much of what is left of the their Tenth Amendment police power to regulate food.

A violation that could prove to be a substantial source of fines collected by the agency would be the manufacture, introduction, delivery for introduction, or receipt in interstate commerce of any food that is adulterated [Section 401(1)]. HR 875 has expanded the definition of “adulteration” in the FFDCA to include “bearing or containing a contaminant that causes illness or death among sensitive populations” [Section 3(3)(b)]. “Contaminant” is defined in the bill as “a bacterium, chemical, natural toxin or manufactured toxicant, virus, parasite, prion, physical hazard, or other human pathogen that when found on or in food can cause human illness, injury or death” [Section 3(10)]. What this means is that with this new definition of adulterated food, FSA will be lowering tolerance levels for contaminants that can be safely and lawfully present in food [Section 204(c)(1)(A)]. Many foods that would not be considered adulterated under current standards would be found to be adulterated under the definition contained in HR 875.

In New York State raw milk producers have been fined for food adulteration when milk samples tested positive for pathogens even though, in most cases if not all, there was no record of anyone becoming sick from the suspect milk. If the bill is passed into law, this experience will be repeated on a national basis.

Those selling strictly in intrastate commerce can still be potentially liable for food adulteration charges or for any other prohibited act in HR 875 relating to interstate commerce. The bill provides that “in any action to enforce the requirements of the food safety law, the connection with interstate commerce required for jurisdiction shall be presumed to exist” [Section 406]. In other words, the farmer will have the burden of proof in establishing that no sales were made in interstate commerce. What type of evidence would the farmer have to provide to show that none of the product sold ever crossed state lines? There are a number of prohibited acts contained in the bill that do not require the farmer to be doing business in interstate commerce for a violation to occur (e.g., refusing to allow inspection, refusing access to inspect or copy a record, failing to maintain a required record, etc.–[Section 401(4)-(6)]).

Passage of HR 875 into law will result in a much greater degree of federal control of food production and food regulation in the individual States as well as on a national level. The Feds would control to a much greater degree the inputs farmers can use [Section 206(c)(3) & (4)] as well as the products farmers can produce (raw milk). Unannounced federal inspections of small farms will be the order of the day, reducing the level of protection provided by the Fourth Amendment. There will be little left of the States’ police power to regulate food. HR 875 calls for the “integration of the inspection and compliance programs in food processing establishments” of the FSA, state and local agencies [Section 207(e)(3)(E)]. The federal government will be dictating the standards used in these programs to the States.

The burdensome requirements the bill imposes on small farms and the intrusive federal control it creates over small farm operations threaten the future viability of sustainable agriculture and the local food movement. HR 875 has been assigned to both the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the House Committee on Agriculture. It needs to be stopped. Anyone who values freedom of food choice and the rights and independence of small farmers should contact their elected representatives and the members of the two committees to ask that they oppose HR 875. Updates on the status of this bill will be provided on this site.

 

Roseann d (178)
Wednesday March 11, 2009, 12:28 pm
Quote of the Day: "Everything not specifically prohibited is mandatory." --
the fundamental principle of government

Subject: Our prediction comes true

The Congressional war against small business continues. The Food Safety
Modernization Act of 2009 (H.R. 875) will create a new food safety
bureaucracy, and require a "traceability" program for "food production
facilities and food establishments. "

These new regulations will drive many small farms and restaurants out of
business. Big Business can afford the compliance costs and will benefit from
the reduced competition as smaller firms go bankrupt. Consumers will face
fewer choices and higher prices, but will we really get safer food in
return, and will it really be worth the cost?

Congress would have to know a lot of things that probably can't be known in
order to evaluate this question, but they're charging ahead anyway,
re-engineering society on the backs of small business owners.

Part of the bill's intent is to absorb already-existing food-tracking
programs. Section 210 (d)(4) says the new food-tracking system must be
"consistent with existing statutes and regulations that require
record-keeping or labeling for identifying the origin or history of food or
food animals," including "the National Animal Identification System (NAIS)
as authorized by the Animal Health Protection Act of 2002 (AHPA)."

The contention that NAIS was authorized by the AHPA is wrong. NAIS
implementation has never been authorized by any Congressional legislation.
It's a bureaucratic initiative.

This false assumption gives NAIS the aura of Congressional approval. Instead
. . .

This is another step on the road to converting NAIS from a "voluntary"
program to a mandatory one. This is exactly what we predicted three years
ago when we launched our anti-NAIS
campaign.

H.R. 875 is a de facto "authorization" of NAIS. It makes the penalties laid
out in the AHPA applicable to participants of NAIS. It also presumes that
NAIS can be "required," or made mandatory for all owners of livestock and
poultry -- even exotic pets.

Up until now Congress has largely ignored NAIS, but Rep. David Obey, who
introduced the Omnibus Appropriations Act, included $14.5 million for
additional NAIS funding and has specifically expressed his intent
that the money will be used to implement NAIS
aggressively according to the USDA's September 2008 Business Plan (written
by bureaucrats as well).

This plan includes:

* Forcing cattle owners to use NAIS "840" RFID (radio frequency
identification) tags when they participate in vaccination programs

* Increasing compliance in the sheep and goat industries through new
regulations and "increased emphasis on enforcement. "

* Requiring premise registration for horse owners who must submit
their horses for EIA testing

* 98% compliance by July 2009 for poultry and swine

* 90% compliance by July 2009 for horses, sheep, and goats

* 60% compliance by Oct 2010 for cattle

These figures reflect the USDA's goal of near-total control of every aspect
of the livestock industry.

Such control isn't possible without aggressive, heavy-handed means. There's
already enough opposition to NAIS to make those targets impossible. That
means farmers that don't comply will be run out of business.

Many who do comply will lose their businesses because of the compliance
cost.

This issue is important right now because a hearing is scheduled on H.R. 875
on Wednesday, March 11. Please check the list in the P.S. to see if your
Represenative serves on the committee, and if they do, please call them.

For the rest of you, we need to prepare the Congress to vote against H.R.
875 should it get out of committee. Use our simple Educate the
Powerful System to . . .

* Tell your Representative and Senators to strip NAIS from any pending
legislation

* Tell them to introduce legislation to abolish the program entirely

Thank you for being a part of the growing Downsize DC Army.

Jim Babka
President
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.

P.S. The subcommittee members are . . .

Joe Baca (D-CA), (p): 202-225-6161
Leonard Boswell (D-IA), (p): 202-225-3806
Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), (p): 202-225-6131
K. Michael Conaway (R-TX), (p): 202-225-3605
Jim Costa (D-CA), (p): 202-225-3341
Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), (p): 202-225-5431
Tim Holden (D-PA), (p): 202-225-5546
Steve Kagen (D-WI), (p): 202-225-5665
Steve King (R-IA), (p): 202-225-4426
Frank Kratovil, Jr. (D-MD), (p): 202-225-5311
Betsy Markey (D-CO), (p): 202-225-4676
Walt Minnick (D-ID), (p): 202-225-6611
Randy Neugebauer (Ranking Minority Member), (R-TX), (p): 202-225-4005
Mike Rogers (R-AL), (p): 202-225-3261
David P. Roe (R-TN), (p): 202-225-6356
David Scott (Subcommittee Chair), (D-GA), (p): 202-225-2939
Adrian Smith (R-NE), (p): 202-225-6435
 

Blue Bunting (855)
Wednesday March 11, 2009, 12:29 pm
I rely on the small farmes that bring their delicious antibiotic-free products to my local farmers market 4 times a week; otherwise I'd have to shop in those horrible supermarkets ...

support our local farmers

buy 40 acres out in Wyoming and start your own farm
 

Roseann d (178)
Wednesday March 11, 2009, 12:48 pm
Can we file a class action suit in self-defense?
 

sue M (184)
Wednesday March 11, 2009, 2:28 pm
Monsanto rules in this case with ex employees in the FDA and well spent lobbying I am afraid. The NWO is just one step further in achieving their goals. A one world government, one bank, one culture, one religion, one food source, one everything. They almost have all the banks under their control so why not the food source next. Big Pharma is buying up all of the little guys. Can one still sit and say this is a crazy conspiracy? We have been warned about this for a long time and yet we still are inactive as a nation.
 

Mike Tedesco (65)
Thursday March 12, 2009, 9:50 pm
The Codex police ride again...

Coming to your town soon...looking to brand you and torture you for Nutrition violations...
Come out of your coma's.Now !
 

Kellie S (96)
Friday March 13, 2009, 11:05 am
Organic Consumer's Association petition: http://capwiz.com/grassrootsnetroots/issues/alert/?alertid=12878056
 

Blue Bunting (855)
Friday April 3, 2009, 3:09 pm
Well, the supermarket lobbyists and food processing plants obviously have hired canvassers; they were in our Farmers Market, here in NYC, today and said they'd be there tomorrow, too. They're interviewing and videotaping statements from Farmers Market vendors and customers.

Now, they don't want us to grow our own "organic" food!!! THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS ... how did they slip this one by us?

Spread the word.

This bill has already passed the House and Senate and is sitting on President Obama's desk awaiting his signature.

You can write to the President and give him your feelings about this "food safety bill" that they're trying to slip by us ... tell him not to sign it ... tell him to send it back to those crook$ and liar$ in Congre$$ and demand food inspections and organic foods rather than all those antibiotics, hormones and additives they're giving us now.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/

You can also call or write to the President:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

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Phone Numbers

Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414
FAX: 202-456-2461
TTY/TDD

Comments: 202-456-6213
Visitors Office: 202-456-2121

 
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