Food Safety Bill Passes on Second Attempt
For Immediate Release: July 30, 2009
Contact: Tami L. Wahl, 202.467.1986 American Association for Health Freedom
The American Association for Health Freedom today expressed extreme regret over legislation, passed today by the House of Representatives, aimed at improving our nation’s food safety. The bill, H.R. 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act (FSEA), was passed under a procedure that allowed for no amendments after rejection of a similar procedure the previous day.
“This legislation needed to be improved,” said Tami Wahl, legislative director of the American Association for Health Freedom (AAHF). “Unfortunately, the process by which it was considered did not allow for this improvement.”
The bill as passed creates a whole new bureaucracy at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) financed primarily by small and family-owned businesses. The bill creates a $500 user fee that must be paid every year and does not take into account the size of the food operation. “Small mom-and-pop food producers who sell locally would pay the same $500 fee each year as a giant food-processor selling to millions of consumers,” Wahl added. “Is this fair? Operations of giant food-processors and huge agribusiness should not be subsidized by small and family-owned businesses.“
The bill also gives the FDA unprecedented authority to tell organic and diversified farms how to grow their crops. “Farmers have been growing food since the beginning of humanity and don’t need a federal bureaucrat to tell them what to do,” added Wahl. “FDA has no experience and no expertise in this area. This is a food disaster waiting to happen.”
This concern was echoed during the debate on the bill today by U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.), who expressed great concern about the cost FSEA imposes on farmers and about the jurisdictional overreach granted to FDA.
FSEA demands extensive record keeping and allows FDA access to the records of farmers and food producers without reasonable cause. It requires small businesses and small farms to develop “risk-based preventive control plans” and allows the FDA to develop requirements aimed at large-scale operations that could create economic burdens on small farms and small businesses. FDA is also granted the ability to impose substantial criminal and civil fines without a showing of harm. This penalty could be imposed for administrative violations.
“This bill could have been improved had amendments been allowed to address these issues,” Wahl continued. “We should not pass legislation that taxes small and family businesses in order to subsidize huge agribusiness. And we should not pass legislation that allows the FDA to get into the business of farming. That agency is already stretched extremely thin with its current responsibility.”
The bill will now be considered in the U.S. Senate. “We hope that the Senate, which more directly represents the interest of small and family farms and small producers, will improve this bill so that an effective and fair food safety bill can be enacted,” Wahl concluded.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
About the American Association for Health Freedom (AAHF):
AAHF is a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization that protects Americans’ rights to access integrative medicine and dietary supplements. AAHF protects the right of the consumer to choose and the practitioner to practice by lobbying Congress and state legislatures; educating the public, press, and decision-makers on integrative medicine; initiating legal activities; and joining and forming significant coalitions.