Here’s an update on the food safety legislation front by Ann Shibler, writing for The New American. It’s titled “From Farming to Serfdom”. It reads like a “final solution” to the whole neo-hippy organic-health-food movement that dares to challenge corporate dominance in the food sector. An excerpt:
“Another sweeping draconian measure from your representatives in Washington is quickly taking shape under H.R. 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act (FSEA) of 2009. Though not officially introduced until June 8, this bill seems to be the bill of choice for passage, as opposed to the eight other bills on the same subject that still sit in committees.
Members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee — Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), John Dingell (D-Mich.), Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), and Bart Stupack (D-Mich.) — met to discuss the bill on May 26, which 13 days bofore it was introduced. These congressmen are all sponsors of the bill. They also held a hearing on the bill on June 3, five days before it was officially introduced.
With pre-planning like this, it’s no wonder that there’s already an amendment to the bill, and that it has been voted out of the Health Subcommittee and already marked up in the Energy and Commerce Committee as a bill being fast-tracked.
Marketed as a bill to “amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to improve the safety of food in the global market, and for other purposes,” the bill in actuality extends U.S. government control over the food supply and those who produce it, using the issue of food safety as the rationale. In fact, the bill doesn’t even address any bad food practices, especially those in foreign countries.
After thoroughly analyzing the text of H.R. 2749, the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund reports that small farms and local producers and small business would be forced to endure “a one-size-fits-all regulatory scheme” that would “disproportionately impact their operations for the worse.” The bill contains frightening and costly requirements, with severe penalties for individuals who are found non-compliant by the FDA.Section 101 (b)(1)-p-3 requires food “facilities” to register annually and pay an annual fee of $500, with said amount to be adjusted for inflation at any time. While claiming that food facilities do not include farms, the FDA’s current vague definition of a “farm” could open the door for the federal agency to designate many farms as food facilities at any time:
A facility in one general physical location devoted to the growing and harvesting of crops, the raising of animals (including seafood), or both. Washing, trimming of outer leaves of, and cooling produce are considered part of harvesting. The term “farm” includes:
(i) Facilities that pack or hold food, provided that all food used in such activities is grown, raised, or consumed on that farm or another farm under the same ownership; and
Facilities that manufacture/process food, provided that all food used in such activities is consumed on that farm or another farm under the same ownership. [21 CFR § 1.227(3)]
By this definition, one owns a farm if one consumes everything one produces, but if one sells any produce, one may no longer be considered a farm. And, a facility is any place that holds food; my kitchen pantry holds food, and so does my local grocery store and I’ve seen them wash and trim vegetables there, so if one were to adhere strictly to the terms above, a grocery store could be under the control of the FDA.
A “facility” according to the FDA is also applied to any place that holds, processes, or manufactures food, including lacto-fermented vegetables, cheeses, and breads. And manufacturing and processing is defined by the FDA to include any activity that uses, cutting, peeling, trimming, washing, waxing, eviscerating, rendering, cooking, baking, freezing, cooling, pasteurizing, homogenizing, mixing, formulating, bottling, milling, grinding, extracting juice, distilling, labeling, or packaging.” [21 CFR § 1.227(6)]
That covers just about anything one could do to a product intended for consumption, and if shared, sold, or purchased, one would fall under the FDA’s regulations, which then would spill over into other areas on the farm or in the business.
Under H.R. 2749 the FDA would require any such producer or holder of such products to develop a food safety plan to be submitted to the FDA for scrutiny. If the small business or farm can devote the time and resources to such a bureaucratic requirement, and if granted approval by the FDA, they then can be subject to “risk-based inspections” at any time for any reason or no reason, which in laymen’s terms are better labeled warrantless searches.
And if that isn’t enough to discourage the small farmer or entrepreneur, the required record keeping would be massive. All foods would have to be traced at all times, and animals would have to be tracked as well, by the farmer or businessman, and God help those who don’t get it right. The penalties could land individuals up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $100,000 for each violation for bad recordkeeping to misbranding, to food spoilage or contamination.
The FDA will make the determination to detain food, but the Secretary of Health and Human Services can issue geographic quarantines to be enforced by the FDA if there is “credible evidence or information” that indicates any food presents a threat of “adverse health consequences or death to human or animals,” [21 USC 334(h)(1)(A)] OR if there is even a “reason to believe that the article [of food] is adulterated, misbranded or otherwise is in violation of this act,” [section 132(a)–p. 82].
The nail in the coffin for any independent producer would be provisions in H.R. 2749 empowering the FDA to dictate farming practices. In fact, organic- and sustainable-farming practices could be eliminated outright under a scheme to regularize farming practices under the heading of safety standards. Raw meat may be subject to irradiation, and no one would be allowed to drink raw milk….”
So, am I understanding this right? USDA representatives have been all around the country, hearing in listening session after listening session (15 in total), in no uncertain terms, that people do not want NAIS, that they think it’s a hare-brained scheme, and now it looks like NAIS has been made part of an even bigger boondoggle — HR2749, that legislators are getting ready to ram down the throats of unwilling Americans. One wonders who these folks are serving. It sure doesn’t look like it’s the will of the people they care about. So what can be done? Have a look at the following petition for starters, and add your name if you agree with what it says:
Here’s an excerpt from their introduction:
|Ask Congress to Defeat HR 2749|
|1,303 Submissions so far|
|111th U.S. Congress – House Bill HR 2749 A new food safety bill is on the fast track in Congress–HR 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009. The bill needs to be stopped!
HR 2749 gives FDA tremendous power while significantly diminishing existing judicial restraints on actions taken by the agency. The bill would impose a one-size-fits-all regulatory scheme on small farms and local artisanal producers; and it would disproportionately impact their operations for the worse.
HR 2749 does not address underlying causes of food safety problems such as industrial agriculture practices and the consolidation of our food supply. The industrial food system and food imports are badly in need of effective regulation, but the HR 2749 does not specifically direct regulation or resources to these areas.
ALARMING PROVISIONS (see Talking Points):
* Random Warrantless Searches of Business Records.
* Establishing a Tracing System for Food.
* Severe Criminal and Civil Penalties.
* Annual Registration Fee of $500.
* Regulation of How Crops Are Raised and Harvested.
So, is the American public going to take all this lying down?
Here’s an excerpt from an open letter to America’s leadership, written by a 53 year old woman in Arizona. While this letter is not about NAIS, it is about the general feeling people get that their government no longer governs as if the people, or the constitution, matter.
“…..Eleven, transparency and accountability. How about it? No, really, how about it? Let’s have it. Let’s say we give the buzzwords a rest and have some straight honest talk. Please try ‑‑ please stop manipulating and trying to appease me with clever wording. I am not the idiot you obviously take me for. Stop sneaking around and meeting in back rooms making deals with your friends. It will only be a prelude to your criminal investigation. Stop hiding things from me.
Twelve, unprecedented quick spending. Stop it now.
Take a breath. Listen to the people. Let’s just slow down and get some input from some nonpoliticians on the subject. Stop making everything an emergency. Stop speed reading our bills into law. I am not an activist. I am not a community organizer. Nor am I a terrorist, a militant or a violent person. I am a parent and a grandparent. I work. I’m busy. I’m busy. I am busy, and I am tired. I thought we elected competent people to take care of the business of government so that we could work, raise our families, pay our bills, have a little recreation, complain about taxes, endure our hardships, pursue our personal goals, cut our lawn, wash our cars on the weekends and be responsible contributing members of society and teach our children to be the same all while living in the home of the free and land of the brave.
I entrusted you with upholding the Constitution. I believed in the checks and balances to keep from getting far off course. What happened? You are very far off course. Do you really think I find humor in the hiring of a speed reader to unintelligently ramble all through a bill that you signed into law without knowing what it contained? I do not. It is a mockery of the responsibility I have entrusted to you. It is a slap in the face. I am not laughing at your arrogance. Why is it that I feel as if you would not trust me to make a single decision about my own life and how I would live it but you should expect that I should trust you with the debt that you have laid on all of us and our children. We did not want the TARP bill. We said no. We would repeal it if we could. I am sure that we still cannot. There is such urgency and recklessness in all of the recent spending.
From my perspective, it seems that all of you have gone insane. I also know that I am far from alone in these feelings. Do you honestly feel that your current pursuits have merit to patriotic Americans? We want it to stop. We want to put the brakes on everything that is being rushed by us and forced upon us. We want our voice back. You have forced us to put our lives on hold to straighten out the mess that you are making. We will have to give up our vacations, our time spent with our children, any relaxation time we may have had and money we cannot afford to spend on you to bring our concerns to Washington. Our president often knows all the right buzzword is unsustainable. Well, no kidding. How many tens of thousands of dollars did the focus group cost to come up with that word? We don’t want your overpriced words. Stop treating us like we’re morons.
We want all of you to stop focusing on your reelection and do the job we want done, not the job you want done or the job your party wants done. You work for us and at this rate I guarantee you not for long because we are coming. We will be heard and we will be represented. You think we’re so busy with our lives that we will never come for you? We are the formerly silent majority, all of us who quietly work , pay taxes, obey the law, vote, save money, keep our noses to the grindstone and we are now looking up at you. You have awakened us, the patriotic spirit so strong and so powerful that it had been sleeping too long. You have pushed us too far. Our numbers are great. They may surprise you. For every one of us who will be there, there will be hundreds more that could not come. Unlike you, we have their trust. We will represent them honestly, rest assured. They will be at the polls on voting day to usher you out of office. We have cancelled vacations. We will use our last few dollars saved. We will find the representation among us and a grassroots campaign will flourish. We didn’t ask for this fight. But the gloves are coming off. We do not come in violence, but we are angry. You will represent us or you will be replaced with someone who will. There are candidates among us when hewill rise like a Phoenix from the ashes that you have made of our constitution.
Democrat, Republican, independent, libertarian. Understand this. We don’t care. Political parties are meaningless to us. Patriotic Americans are willing to do right by us and our Constitution and that is all that matters to us now. We are going to fire all of you who abuse power and seek more. It is not your power. It is ours and we want it back. We entrusted you with it and you abused it. You are dishonorable. You are dishonest. As Americans we are ashamed of you. You have brought shame to us. If you are not representing the wants and needs of your constituency loudly and consistently, in spite of the objections of your party, you will be fired. Did you hear? We no longer care about your political parties. You need to be loyal to us, not to them. Because we will get you fired and they will not save you. If you do or can represent me, my issues, my views, please stand up. Make your identity known. You need to make some noise about it. Speak up. I need to know who you are. If you do not speak up, you will be herded out with the rest of the sheep and we will replace the whole damn congress if need be one by one. We are coming. Are we coming for you? Who do you represent? What do you represent? Listen. Because we are coming. We the people are coming.”