SET TO VOTE ON FAST-TRACKED “FOOD-SAFETY” BILL
Posted 1:00 AM Eastern
July 30, 2009
© 2009 NewsWithViews.com
"FARM SAFETY" BILL FAILS TO PASS: HOUSE TO RE-VOTE TODAY!
2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act, did not pass the House on Wednesday.
It was scheduled on the Suspension Calendar, which meant no amendments
could be offered and only 40 minutes of debate. But the proponents failed
to muster the necessary two-thirds vote to pass the bill under suspension.
Instead, 150 Members of Congress said "Stop!"
the fight is not over!
a very unusual move, the Rules Committee met Wednesday afternoon and
reported the bill to the floor a second time under what's called a "closed
rule," which allows only one hour of debate. So the House may vote
on HR 2749 again as soon as today, Thursday!
Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund is asking everyone to contact their
U.S. Representatives AGAIN requesting that they vote against HR 2749.]
Freedom Group: “H.R. 2749 Puts FDA Directly on the Farm”
– August recess begins next week, when members of Congress leave
town to touch base with folks in their home districts and mend whatever
fences need mending.
these last days before adjournment, the Obama administration
has been applying serious pressure on lawmakers to get its priority
bills passed by at least one house. But while the media and general
public focus on the politically charged bills dealing with health care,
climate change and hate crimes, less attention-grabbing proposals have
been moved along in a series of congressional sneak attacks.
of these -- H.R. 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act (FSEA) of 2009
– is scheduled to be voted on by the House today.
hoped it would be voted on later this week, but the House Leadership
is determined to push it through and the bill has been placed "on
suspension," meaning that debate will be limited to just 40 minutes
and no amendments will be considered. A two-thirds vote will be required
for HR 2749 to pass, instead of a simple majority.
bill would impose extensive fees and regulation on anyone processing
food, including those selling at farmers markets and other local venues,”
and Ranch Freedom Alliance warns. “H.R. 2749 also directs
the Food and Drug Administration to regulate how crops are raised and
harvested, putting the agency directly on the farm.”
early last month by Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., the FSEA is similar
to the Food Safety Modernization
Act (H.R. 875) and six others on the same subject that created a
huge furor among bloggers on the Internet this past March. Supporters
said that some kind of measure was needed to protect consumers from
food-borne illnesses, but critics claimed it would saddle farmers and
small food producers with unnecessary and costly paperwork and put the
federal government in charge of American farming practices and food
production, without making food any safer.
were written to Congress, faxes and e-mails sent, and the blogosphere
buzzed with discussions. But when no committee hearings were held on
any of them or even scheduled, the bills apparently faded from public
Back and Fast-Tracked
earlier bills could have been trial balloons, launched to sound out
potential opposition and decide on appropriate strategies to counter
June 8, Dingell introduced another version that was given the number
H.R. 2749. Two days later Rep. Henry Waxman, who heads the House Energy
and Commerce Committee, offered a substitute bill as an amendment.
Shibler, editorial assistant at The
New American magazine, described the behind-the-scenes action in
a June 18 article – just 10 days after H.R. 2749’s introduction.
FSEA not only has many of the same provisions as H.R. 875, but overall
in some ways it’s worse, says attorney Peter Kennedy, President
of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, a D.C.-based group that
champions locally grown and organic food production and played a major
role in the opposition to H.R. 875. This included producing an in-depth
a recent phone interview Kennedy talked with NewsWithViews about this
recent version -- how it differs from H.R. 875, what its passage could
mean to American farming, whether there’s any connection to the
Codex Alimentarius (the international food code) and other matters of
FSEA] has a quarantine power that H.R. 875 doesn’t have,”
Kennedy said. “It will give the [secretary of Health and Human
Services] the power to halt all movement of all food in a geographic
location without a court order.”
USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] has the power to quarantine plants
and animals, even farms,” he added, “but they’re talking
here about the power to quarantine all food in an area, and that’s
a lot different than quarantining certain plants and animals. This covers
the entire food supply in an area.”
continued: “Another provision that wasn’t in H.R. 875 is
that the federal government wants to establish national growing standards
for produce – and that will involve the federal government dictating
those standards. If someone has a garden and sells produce at a roadside
stand or farmers market, the way the bill reads they’d be subject
to those federal standards.”
difference: Under H.R. 875 the Food and Drug Administration, which is
part of Health and Human Services, would have been broken into two separate
agencies: the Federal Drug and Device Administration would deal with
medical matters, while there would be a new Food Safety Administration
to handle food production regulations and enforcement.
bill – H.R. 2749 – keeps the FDA in one piece and just revises
the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act,” Kennedy explained.
what he considered the most egregious provision of the bill, Kennedy
found it difficult to make a make a choice.
are a number of things,” he said, listing a few – warrantless
searches, traceability requirements, national growing standards, and
national performing standards.
bill provides for warrantless searches to inspect business records.
There’s the quarantine provision in there. And there’s a
traceability provision which is so broad and vague, who knows where
that’s going to end up at?”
there’s the question of raw milk.
of our farmer members produce raw milk,” Kennedy said. “There’s
a provision in there that calls for national performance standards for
various classes of food and talks about performance standards for reducing
contaminants. It sounds like ‘performing standards’ for
raw milk could be pasteurization.”
think that the national standards will take away some of the independence
that states have left to regulate foods within their border,”
he said. “It seems that there’s more regulation of intra-state
commerce in the bill [than in H.R. 875] – whether it’s through
these national growing standards or performance standards. The warrantless
searches of business records would apply to someone whether they were
engaged in interstate commerce or not. The traceability requirement
would apply to someone regardless of whether their business was involved
in interstate commerce. It seems they’d be exercising more jurisdiction
over intra-state commerce if this bill passes.”
question has come up in discussion on the Internet that H.R. 2749 will
bind U.S. farmers to the standards of the Codex
Alimentarius and the dictates handed down by the international Codex
Alimentarius Commission. [Codex Alimentarius is Latin for “food
code” or “food book”].
word ‘Codex’ doesn’t appear in the bill,” said
Kennedy. “But there is a provision in there that information can
be shared. There’s talk about harmonizing standards, and there’s
language that says information that’s exempt from the Freedom
of Information Act can still be shared by another country that the U.S.
has a treaty with.” [pp. 83-86 of the Waxman amendment]
language about harmonizing standards,” Kennedy continued, “So
while there’s nothing that specifically mentions Codex, when you’re
talking about ‘harmonization of standards’ – that
sounds like the Codex to me.”
optimistic, half not -- Kennedy called attention to the online petition
on his group’s website.
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still time to defeat H.R. 2749,” he said. “There’s
an online petition people can sign – and they can add a message.
But they need to phone too. They need to talk to someone in their representative’s
Ways to Contact your Representative:
- Sign the FTCLDF's
Petition and the American
Association of Health Freedom’s Petition.
2 - Go to "My Elected Officials" at www.congress.org
and enter your zip code to find your legislators. Call and/or send a
3 - Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121
to contact your Representative's office.
Foster: Will Congress Wipe Out
Home Gardens, Growers Markets? Mar. 23, 2009
- H.R. 2749: The
Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009: To amend the Federal Food, Drug,
and Cosmetic Act to improve the safety of food in the global market,
and for other purposes.
2 - Waxman
Amendment to H.R. 2749 -- 133 pages
3 - Farm-To-Consumer
Legal Defense Fund
4 - Analysis
and Update by the Farm-To-Consumer Legal Defense Fund
5 - Action
Alert with Frequently Asked Questions by the Farm-to-Consumer Legal
6 - Ann
Shibler: From Farming to Serfdom. The New American, June 18, 2009
7 - Carolyn Lochhead: Crops,
Ponds Destroyed in Quest for Food Safety. SF Chronicle, July 13,
© 2009 NWV - All Rights Reserved