Press Release: Food Safety Bill Set Quietly for House Vote

Food Safety Bill Set Quietly for House Vote
For Immediate Release: July 27, 2009
Contact: Tami L. Wahl, 202.467.1986 (o); 208.964.4144 (m)
American Association for Health Freedom
Food safety legislation is being fast-tracked with almost no notice. HR2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act, completely revamps FDA and grants expansive authority with no oversight. The bill was introduced on June 8, 2009, by Rep. John Dingell (D–MI), was immediately voted out of the Health Subcommittee on June 10, and was sent to the Energy and Commerce Committee. On June 17, HR2749 left Energy and Commerce, and is now set to be voted upon by the full House this Tuesday or Wednesday and the revised bill has yet to be released for review by Congress.
The bill is set on the House Suspension Calendar, which means no amendments are allowed and only 40 minutes of debate is permitted equally divided between the opponents and proponents of the bill.
The revised bill has yet to be released. However, the original bill contained provisions cited as significant concern to small farms and small food producers.
Tami L. Wahl, Legislative Director for the American Association for Health Freedom, states, “Our primary concerns remain. Establishing an annual $500 user fee that subsidizes giant food processors at the expense of small and family-owned businesses is fundamentally unfair especially since recent food-borne illness outbreaks have originated from larger facilities. A small operation that distributes within their community would pay the same fee as an operation that distributes processed food nationwide.”
Typically a bill of this scale would be extensively debated and open for amendments. The implications from such an expansive bill could be detrimental to consumers’ access to healthy foods and to the prosperity of small business owners, according to Wahl.
Additional concerns expressed throughout the organic and small farm community are the lumping of small farms and processors into the same category as large agribusiness operations; creating complicated regulations without special rules for small businesses; allowing the FDA to directly regulate farming practices; and increasing the FDA’s authority dramatically with no corresponding increase in oversight of the agency such as unlimited access to any and all records—without cause—and the ability to impose substantial criminal and civil fines—without a showing of harm—for administrative violations.
Wahl continues, “This bill threatens small farms and producers by subjecting them to regulations and recordkeeping aimed at large agribusinesses. The legislation allows the FDA to tell organic and small farmers how to grow their crops, something the agency has no experience or expertise in doing. The FDA will be allowed to set rules that both industrial farms and small farmers would have to follow. It’s a bureaucratic nightmare waiting to happen.”
The question remains, how can a Representative thoroughly review over 100 pages and hold an informed vote with only 40 minutes of debate? Similar fast tracking occurred with the stimulus bill where Congress did not have time to fully review the legislation.
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NOTES TO THE EDITOR:
About the American Association for Health Freedom (AAHF):
www.anh-usa.org
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.