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Congress' Common Sense is MIA

Food Safety Modernization Act threatens our system

Just when you might think Congress would be slowing down their take-over of the American enterprise system, these elected ladies and gents come up with another huge whopper. In early February, while they were dreaming up new economic stimulus earmarks, 31 House Democrats – not one Republican – introduced the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009. At latest count, there are 39 co-sponsors.

 

At first, I thought it might be an early-arriving April fools joke. But H.R. 875 is a real thing. You need to read it for yourself at: www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h875/text . Actually, it’s a second-generation bill, originally proposed more than a year ago.

 

These people have no common sense, have egos swelled by their power, have never balanced a checkbook, or think that money grows on trees – or all the fore mentioned. None the less, they’re out of control and spending your children’s earnings and inheritance like there’s no tomorrow!

 

If Congress and the President hadn’t already approved two budget-busting pieces of legislation, I might have dismissed this one as political grandstanding. But taxpayers have already paid a lot of money to have this legislation written. And you haven’t seen nothing yet of H.R. 875’s real cost.

 

I was relieved that no Pennsylvania congresspersons were on the sponsor list. But I’m ashamed to report that seven represent New York and four serve New England states. The far-out West, including California, had 14 cosponsors. And, the ring leader of this bunch is Connecticut’s Rosa DeLauro.

 

[Actually, money does grow on trees. Trucks hauling trees to the paper mill go by my office every day. But that’s another story.]

 

What am I gyrating about?

 

Let’s “get to the meat”. FSMA would establish a new federal agency – yes, another one – to police every food-producing establishment all the way down to, and including, your farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation.

 

This Food Safety Administration would extract all regulatory authority – and funding – away from the Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture and others. As proposed, it would give FSA agents authority to physically access your farm, copy all farm documents, and require customer lists from all farms selling direct to consumers.

 

Yes, there are a lot of nasty bugs, let alone potential food terrorism elements that theoretically could invade our food system. But the far greatest present danger is destroying individual and private incentive and opportunity for producing fresh and local foods.

 

More federal jobs, no more money?

 

The legislation specifies that appropriations could not exceed that already budgeted for already authorized federal agencies. Duh!

 

So let’s get this straight: It would create yet another government agency, requiring still more federal jobs for which there’s no money to hire. As we reported in American Agriculturist last year, FDA and USDA inspection systems have been hamstrung for the lack of funding for years.

 

That’s the biggest reason why Americans are suffering from food safety issues. By his own admission, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin’s (D- Ill.) acknowledges that our food safety inspection system is “underfunded and overwhelmed” by the sheer volume of domestic and imported foods. He authored the first-generation FSMA bill.

 

Push your congresspersons to find and gather their common sense. Right now, it’s clearly missing in action. Fix what we have! Don’t create an even bigger monster!

 

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