The Food Safety Modernization Act
By Jeff Ball, Guest Commentator Kingston, Tennessee
NOTE: Since this was written, the senate has
already passed the bill but the house may yet kill it. You should still
take the time to contact your Senators and Congressmen.
There is a bill being voted on in the senate that I can not in good conscience be silent about. Please contact your senators/congressman and urge them to vote NO on senate bill s510, “The Food Safety Modernization Act”
The pdf of this bill can be downloaded here:
The bill is less about safety and more about the complete federal takeover of the growth, packing, storage, transportation and distribution of all food, in the name of “safety”.
It gives complete total authority to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. This bill will destroy what is left of small family farms and effectively outlaw the newly blossoming organic food industry. It creates new cumbersome paperwork requirements that will be very difficult for smaller operations to meet. Additionally the way the bill is currently worded there is no protection at all for the right of individuals to grow and sell their own food. There are some exemptions for “farms and restaurants” but nothing for individuals.
Below is an excerpt of Section 101 Inspection of records from page 122 line 7 through page 123 line 3. This section spells out who must allow inspections. It specifically exempts farms and restaurants which sounds good, however it states exactly:
‘‘(2) USE OF OR EXPOSURE TO FOOD OF CONCERN.—If the Secretary believes that there is a reasonable probability that the use of or exposure to an article of food, and any other article of food that the Secretary reasonably believes is likely to be affected in a similar manner, will cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals, each person (excluding farms and restaurants) who manufactures, processes, packs, distributes, receives, holds, or imports such article shall, at the request of an officer or employee duly designated by the Secretary, permit such officer or employee, upon presentation of appropriate credentials and a written notice to such person, at reasonable times and within reasonable limits and in a reasonable manner, to have access to and copy all records relating to such article and to any other article of food that the Secretary reasonably believes is likely to be affected in a similar manner, that are needed to assist the Secretary in determining whether there is a reasonable probability that the use of or exposure to the food will cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals.
Note where it says “each” person. So does that mean your grandmother who manufacturers her grape jelly from her own grapes and then processes (cans) it, packs it and distributes it for sell at the local farmers market or church bake sale could be required to follow this act just like billion dollar food processing companies? The problem with this law is that all such decisions and authority are given totally to the Secretary of Health and Human Services who has complete power to make and change rules and regulations at his or her whim. Not to mention that if the word “terrorism” is thrown into the mix then all authority rests with the Department of Homeland Security. Please don't take my word for these statements, read the bill!
Even scarier are parts of the bill that specify training for state and local “officers”. Note it doesn't say “local food inspectors” but “officers”. Will your local sheriffs be confiscating your locally produced food?
Additionally this bill adds 26,600 new inspectors. That is 532 per state! What will these new gung-ho inspectors be doing, staking out local farmers markets, roadside food stands, etc?
There are some senators who have proposed amendments to protect small farms and organic growers however I've seen nothing to protect individuals and even these amendments will still put many small businesses under.
This bill has the support of most major agri-business companies and these companies have given millions of dollars to senators to vote for this legislation. People who are against it are grass roots organic growers, small family farm associations, individual liberty organizations and other similar groups. Unfortunately these groups lack the money and access to politicians that the large companies have.
These companies rather than compete for the business of an increasingly health oriented consumer are seeking to keep their monopolies by force of law. We should remember that in a free society competition is good. Look at how the telecommunications industry blossomed for the benefit of all consumers when the government broke up the AT&T ma bell monopoly. Especially consider those benefits if you are reading this on your smart phone.
The latest legislative update is that the senate is pushing to vote for this early Monday November 29th. It should come as no surprise that anytime our government passes legislation that is harmful to individual liberty, they typically do it around major holidays when most of us would rather not think about such things and are less likely to protest. As you give thanks this holiday week please take the time to call or email your senators and let them know how you feel. Your future Thanksgivings could depend on it.
Bottom line: If the government controls the food they control you. Please contact your senators and tell them to stop this horrible bill.
You can find the contact info for your senator here at the U.S. Senate official website:
Additionally for you Tennessee residents here are the phone numbers of our senators:
Lamar Alexander: (202) 224-4944
Bob Corker: (202) 224-3344
Jeffrey A. Ball
Here are a few sites that have better stated the case against this bill and an article on one of the chief architects and lobbyist for the bill.