After reading HR 875, the “Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009“, I had to conclude that it fails to conform to the United States Constitution. Article IV of the 1st amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Furthermore, Article VIII says that “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed…” As George Washington said, “Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”
HR 875 is a new bill, now in committee, that would establish a “Food Safety Administration” headed by a “Food Safety Administrator”. The duties of the new Administrator would be to develop a “national food safety program” and ensure that anyone who produces, processes, or distributes food meet the responsibility to minimize food safety hazards – sec. 201 (a). Should that really be the responsibility of the Federal government?
The Administrator would be given control over “food production facilities”, defined as “any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation” – Sec. 3 (14). These terms themselves are not defined. Could Grandpa’s half dozen apple trees be called an orchard? Could a few rows of raspberries and a chicken pen and a few beehives be considered a farm? According to sec. 206, all such Food Production Facilities would be required to set practice standards according to government regulations, keep food safety records, and permit the government to visit and inspect the facility and view and copy records. Federal regulations would control growing, harvesting, sorting, and storage operations, minimum standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animal encroachment, and water”. As of yet there is no exemption for any operation, no matter how small, even if the production is intended only for family use. Do we want the Federal government telling us what we are allowed to grow and how we are allowed to grow it, harvest it, and store it? These are not just recommendations either, but full-blown regulations enforced by the Administrator.
A violation of any regulation, no matter how small, could result in fines of up to a million dollars, and there is no mention of any consequence to the Administrator if the fines are excessive.
This bill seems like a free ticket to tyranny. What is there to hold the Administrator in check from extreme decisions? In addition, the ability to “establish interim performance standards” for newly identified contaminants” could too easily be misused in the event of a “big scare”. Furthermore what would prevent big GMO and pharmaceutical companies that are already trying to dominate science and industry from dominating and influencing the Administration’s “advisory committees” that develop recommendations for performance standards and inspections? – sec. 103 (d).
Other writers report that HR 759 (“Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act of 2009”) and HR 814 (“TRACE Act of 2009”) are even worse, and more likely to be considered by congress. Food safety is important, but most of this regulation at the Federal level simply isn’t needed. States are more qualified to supervise mass food production and more likely to represent their constituency. At the lowest and safest level, where local produces sell seasonal products directly to consumers, the best and most efficient regulation comes from intelligent, informed customers and neighbors. The Federal government does have a role in food safety, especially over imports, but not in the backyard of small or private businesses. Why assume that the American people are so untrustworthy and careless that they need such regulation? Aren’t people naturally drawn to responsible, sanitary facilities? Cannot a mother find the cleanest place to buy food for her family? Food is power. If the Federal government can control the food you eat they have absolute control over you. I would encourage anyone who reads this post to track these bills, watch for amendments, and of course contact your representatives and let them know that you would like them to represent you by opposing HR 759, HR 875, and HR 814.