It all sounds so reasonable when seen from the perspective of legislation. And its all so wrong.
HR 875, also known as the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, was introduced by Rosa Delauro – a democratic party member of the United States House of Representatives from Connecticut – in February of 2009. The title of HR 875, The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009, sounds innocuous enough – even comforting, but its implications yield a much, much different story.
HR 875 as it is written today, could very well mean the end of the vibrant and growing local foods movement. Yes – if it passes – it could herald the death of farmers markets, most CSAs, farmstands and even small family-run farms altogether.
Ostensibly, HR 875 or the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 would bring greater accountability to our imperiled food system. Indeed, with salmonella-infected peanuts and spinach laced with e-coli, who isn’t crying out for improvements in food safety?
However, HR 875 fails miserably in promoting food safety. Rather, than promoting true accountability and proper farming techniques that minimize the risk of introducing pathogens into the food supply, it simply will create greater barriers for our already struggling small farms and farmers markets.
HR 875 mandates that anyone who produces food of any kind – meat, milk, fruit, vegetables et cetera – and transports that food for sale be subject to warrantless government inspections of their farms and food production records. These random inspections can be conducted at the whim of federal agents without regard to farmers rights or property rights. Further, the law would allow federal agents to confiscate records, product as they see fit as part of the inspection process.
Agents could also implement draconian restrictions regarding how farm animals can be fed, how fields can be managed and the end result of these restrictions could mean the end of organic, biodynamic and sustainable agriculture practices if these practices are deemed “unsafe.” Farmers refusing to comply would be subject to penalties.
The penalty for denying federal agents unlimited, random access to a farm’s fields, properties, products and records is up to $1,000,000. The penalty for not registering is up to$1,000,000.