HR 875 Would Essentially Outlaw Family Farms In The United States
(*Editors Note* This is a guest post from fellow Indy blogger Sean Shepard. Sean is a good friend of the site and has contributed here on occasion. – Josh)
I get a lot of e-mails each day and one today pointed my attention to HR 875, a bill introduced into the 111th Congress for consideration. SO, I went and did something that members of Congress rarely do and actually went and read the bill, or more accurately, at least glanced through it which is still more than they ever do. It was introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT 3rd) and has around 36 co-sponsors including Congressman Andre Carson (D-IN 7th) as of this writing. It immediately strikes me as being terribly bad legislation.
Under a heading described as protecting the public health and ensuring the safety of food it creates a “Food Safety Administration” within Health and Human Services. Oddly, not just adding regulations to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) which is also under HHS. And don’t we have the USDA as well? The bill applies to all manner of “Food Establishments” and “Food Production Facilities” (note the following excerpt).
(14) FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITY- The term ‘food production facility’ means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation.
The bill would appear to even cover fishing boats and your downtown hot dog street vendors. In fact, the bill probably would also apply to your family garden since no exemption is apparent.
(Read more after the leap)
What it essentially does is place a tremendous regulatory burden on all of these organizations and individuals by requiring them to have “food safety plans”, consider all relevant hazards [note: I wish Congress would consider all "relevant hazards" or unintended consequences of everything THEY did], testing, sample keeping and to maintain all kinds of records. The bill also allows the government to dictate all manner of standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, packaging, temperature controls and other items.
This massive bloat in government regulation (and taxpayer expense to support it) would add additional cost and headache to every farm, fishing boat, restaurant, slaughterhouse, processing plant, CO-OP and anyone else associated with growing, storing or processing food. The bill authorizes fines of up to $1,000,000 (one million) dollars for “each act” and for “each day” of a violation.
We’ll skip over the concern over how important food production and distribution, largely recession proof, could be if our economy continues to decline and inflation takes hold and just address this on the apparent lunacy that it is. As those familiar with history know, large dominant corporations often will use government to demand industry regulations that force the small competitor out of business or introduce barriers to entry that prevent new companies from starting up to compete. In the early part of the 20th century a tremendous amount of regulation was written by the industries themselves to be enacted into law.
In this case, I think this bill could do tremendous harm to family farms or independent food operators. Only massive companies have the ability to meet these regulations and imagine the legal expenses that could be incurred to defend oneself? Never forget, the government has near unlimited resources where you might have to cough up $200 to $500 an hour for a good attorney to defend yourself, your farm, boat, truck, restaurant, orchard, vineyard or hot dog stand. And what about the increased cost of food associated with the cost of compliance, it’s not unreasonable to think that many places would have to hire staff or outside assistance just to comply with the law.
We have an excellent history in the United States of safe food, but as Obama’s Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel suggested recently, “You should never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” He spoke those words relative to looking for opportunities to do things that people would not otherwise accept without some crisis. We should be very careful not to let the very rare instance of something like the recent peanut problem be used as such a “crisis”. There is no impetus to point the bureaucrats of government and the guns they control, their ability to not only deprive someone of life or freedom but to destroy whole families, careers and reputations, at everyone in the country who might be involved in ensuring we have stuff to eat.
We’re doing just fine without this legislation.