HR 875 – The Death of Farmers Markets, CSAs and Local Food

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.

Remember, this law would affect every farmer or food producer who must transport his goods to sell them – in effect, every single farmer.   That means that an orchard that sells fresh fruit at a roadside stand would be affected; a farmer who delivers CSA boxes would be affected, even a home gardener who brings excess harvest to a farmers market’s community booth would have to register or be subject to $1,000,000 fines and that garden plot would be subject to inspection by federal agents.   Ridiculous, isn’t it?   But it’s true.

HR 875 is such a massive bill, with such massive requirements and restrictions that, in effect, only huge agribusinesses would be able to effectively meet all its requirements.   The small family farm would be history and, along with it, farmstands, farmers markets, most food cooperatives and CSAs.

Now, let’s get back to Rosa Delauro who introduced HR 875 in February.   Ms. Delaura is married to Stanley Greenberg.   Stanley Greenberg is a political consultant whose clients have included Monsanto–Monsanto, the same corporation, who blessed us with RBGH and genetically engineered seeds. Should we really trust Ms. Delauro or her husband to make these kinds of decisions for the American people?

My husband and I run a farmers market – a vibrant and growing farmers market in the heart of ski country.   Now, it’s taken our blood, sweat and tears (and I do mean real blood, real sweat and real tears) to make our market succeed.   Were this bill to pass, it would mean the end of our market as our farmers – some of whom grow on as little as a single acre – would be forced to close their gates.   It would also mean the end of our local CSAs – all of which are delivered from the farm after a winding trip through the mountains.

The bill has not passed yet, so you still have time to act.   Remember, eating is now a political act so exercise your rights.

Act now:

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What people are saying

  1. Anni says

    No!I strongly urge everyone to call thier representative now!I am.Protect local and organic farmers!Healthy food is our right!HR 875 must not be passed!
    thank you

  2. Thaddius Mccotter says

    Please oppose HR875. This bill is not about food safety. It is about putting small local farmers and farmers markets out of business. The bill’s promoter Ms. Rose Delaura is married to a political consultant who works for Monsanto.

    Please support local food by opposing this bill.

    Your Constituent,
    Jacklyn Brickman

  3. debbie says

    Dear Congressperson,

    I am writing to implore you to oppose HR 875 – The Food Safety and Modernization Act – and to urge other congressmen and women to do the same.

    This bill, which was introduced by Congresswoman Rosa Delauro, will mean the end of all farm-to-consumer activity in our nation. Interestingly, Ms. Delauro’s husband is the political consultant for Monsanto – a giant agribusiness. I have to question whose interest Ms. Delauro is promoting by introducing this bill with its innocent-sounding name.

    It is imperative that giant agribusinesses like Monsanto do not take over our food supply. We must support small farmers in our nation. Our future of food depends on it.

    Thank you for taking time to consider my concerns and for acting in the best interest of consumers and small farmers.


  4. says

    Would there be a technicality for a CSA who is selling a portion of their farm, success and failure? And what about here in CO where you have to buy a share in the cow to get raw milk? Would that be in there, too? They aren’t selling the milk, just a share in the cow?

    I am copying the above letter and sending it to my representative!

    Noelle´s last post: Real Food Wednesday.

  5. admin says

    Thank you to everyone who posted, blogged and emailed about HR 875!

    Noelle -
    Regarding CSAs and Cow Shares, according to the bill as it is currently written, would be subject to the law’s requirements if they transport the food from the farm to the consumer. Most CSAs and many cow shares offer deliveries and so would be subject to all the fines, inspections and other nonsense the bill promises will keep us “safe.”

  6. denis blodgett says

    pls oppose this bill. at this point in time all younger families should be growing their own food and sharing it with neighbors thru donations or farmers markets. we do not need to spend millions for gov agents inspecting every small home plot that is trying to eat right and plentiful. where is
    this country of free enterprise going except down the tube with bills like this.

  7. t quigly says

    Per (
    & both bills are still in committee – govtrack lists the co-sponsors for the House bill (no co-sponsors for the Senate bill) – call them and raise the rooster with them – we can get this stopped while they are still in committee!!
    One blogpost on these bills has a great, spot-on title, ‘Is Organic Farming Killer Rosa DeLauro Becoming the Most Hated Woman in America? (I hope so)’.
    Note these bills are redundant and unnecessary – we already have food-safety agencies (e.g., FDA) – if they are either negligent or are purposely turning their backs on the failures of BigAg, then piling more legislation and paperwork on the problem isn’t going to solve anything.
    Goobermint (including obama) cites the incidents of widespread contamination of food products as reason for these bills – but the spinach, peanut butter, etc contaminations were caused by BigAg. But government food-safety agencies had done nothing to stop them.
    Widespread contamination is caused by BigAg – but these bills target small, local farmers.
    Any local food safety issues can be handled locally – NOT by the federal government.

  8. Sitka says

    It would be SUPER HELPFUL to have one of those “Share This” buttons on your blog / rss feed posts.. That way people can automatically and effortlessly post this to their facebook account… (Which I would like to do.)

    Contacting my congressperson NOW.
    This is truly bad news….

    Check out Sitka’s last post: Observing the Mind of Dissatisfaction.

  9. Bill says

    I have not yet read the bill in full so this may be any easy question to answer. Does anyone one know if this bill effects those farmers who sell their products on site? My girlfriend’s parents sell free range eggs off of their porch, her uncle sells grass feed beef from their farm, and family friends sell raw milk (I know how spoiled and privileged we are to have access to these wonderful foods). We help out on the farm and feel pride in working the land, how are small sized farms like this going to be effected? I know that existing regulations for eggs, meat and other produce become more involved once you transport them off of the farm but how is this new law going to change this “on the farm” type of exchange?

  10. Benjamin Knigge says

    The majority of the information in the blog posting is made up. If you don’t believe me read the bill. You may not like the bill because of the extra regulations it would impose on farmers but when you fabricate facts it makes you look foolish.

    • Jenny says

      Hi Benjamin -
      I’ve read the bill – in its entirety and I encourage every single one of my readers to do the same. And, yes, the bill as it is written today would imperil farms and their direct marketing efforts exactly as I’ve described.

  11. Diane Messer says

    Greetings ~
    We should all be advocates for food safety and small farm protection (especially organic), but we should also strive for fairly balanced knowledge and activism. Here are a few reliable resources that readers should check and consider with their actions.

    Safe eating and healthy living for all,
    Diane Messer

  12. Elizabeth Henderson says

    Tell Your Neighbors and Customers to Help Us Protect Small Farms and Our Food Supply and Call Your Congressional Representatives with the same Message:
    A number of produce safety bills are circulating in Congress in the aftermath of the fiasco with peanut paste manufactured at a Georgia factory. Many of these bills would apply a one-size-fits-all approach to protecting our food supply, treating all food sources, including family farms, as major hazards, instead of focusing on the actual, proven risks in our food supply.

    The Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) is working with a team of sustainable farming organizations from across the country to develop a coordinated response to these competing bills, one that protects our food supply and family-scale, sustainable agriculture. At this point (early April 2009), it looks like the Dingell Bill HR759 is the most likely to move forward in Congress because the Obama administration does not want to reorganize the entire Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at this time as called for by the DeLauro Bill HR 875. Representative DeLauro is negotiating for the inclusion of some portions of HR 875 in the Dingell Bill.
    Please help prevent a regulatory stampede fueled by the fear of pathogens and a narrow definition of food safety! In NOFA’s vision, truly safe food:

    *is produced non-destructively, without poisoning soil, water or air with synthetic pesticides, herbicides and other toxic materials or untested genetically modified organisms
    *is nutrient dense, builds body health and strengthens the immune system
    *provides safe and fairly paid work for producers all along the food chain from the field to the table
    *and is accessible to all people at a price they can afford to pay.

    Look for follow-ups from NOFA on this issue.

    For now, the most critical action that each of us can take is to make sure that our customers and neighbors understand that we as family-scale farmers and supporters of NYS organic agriculture are committed to producing safe food! What we oppose is mandatory federal regulation of family-scale farms and one-size-fits-all regulatory solutions. Please explain this to your neighbors and customers and join them in calling your Congress member and Senators to insist that any produce safety bill MUST BE:

    * Scale-appropriate. Federal law should support producers at each level, not impose a one-size-fits-all approach that runs small farms and farmers markets out of business.

    * Risk-based. Measures to mitigate produce safety risk or to implement safety solutions must be based on actual risk assessments for different products and scales of farms, not assumptions based on an industrial food model.

    * Science-based. Specific measures to mitigate produce safety risk or specific metrics included in produce safety solutions, must be based on sound science, specific to the growing conditions on individual farms. Funding research to develop a science-based approach to on-farm produce safety should be a priority
    *Voluntary. Farmers should be free to choose the food safety measures that are most appropriate to their farm, scale of production and market. A program that provides farmers with training in making a food safety plan for their farm and then provides incentives for implementing that plan will be the most likely approach to achieve success.

    * Provide tiered compliance alternatives. Compliance with produce safety measures should be tiered to reflect farm size, market served and risk, for instance, a 2-acre fruit and vegetable producer selling exclusively through farmers markets or CSAs within 50 miles of the farm vs. a several hundred acre producer shipping produce to multiple outlets in multiple states. A tiered compliance program would include training on on-farm produce safety for all producers, with larger producers choosing to comply with more rigorous certifications to meet buyer specifications, not federally-mandated standards.

    * Focused on education, not regulation. On-farm food safety should center around education and incentives rather than mandated regulations with punitive measures for non-compliance.

    To find your Senators and Congress member, go to, and ; both sites have a tool at the top of the page to locate
    your representatives. When you call, ask to speak to the staffer that handles agriculture issues.
    Below are two analyses of the content of the food bills currently circulating in Congress:
    Food Safety Bills from Food and Water Watch
    As of 2/18/09

    There are 4 bills that have been introduced. More are expected. Sen. Durbin will likely introduce another next week.
    At this point, two are explicitly on traceability (one in Senate, one in House.) The House bill by DeGette is essentially a mandatory animal i.d. bill and also calls for traceability of all food. The Senate bill by Brown focuses on traceability for food other that meat/poultry (FDA jurisdiction foods) and for meat/poultry, it gives USDA mandatory recall authority.
    The other two bills are much more comprehensive and essentially reorganize food safety as performed by FDA. The DeLauro bill creates a new food safety agency within the Department of Health and Human Services – it splits the FDA into two new entities, one that does food safety and one that does drugs. It does not affect meat and poultry inspection done by USDA. The Dingell bill leaves the structure of FDA alone, but tackles both food and drug safety regulation currently done by FDA. His bill does not affect meat and poultry inspection.
    There are other differences between the two:
    User fees – Dingell calls for “registration fee” paid by food establishments to generate revenue for FDA (it does say that user fee can be waived for small businesses). DeLauro does not establish user fees.
    Import Standards – Dingell bill allows exporters to be certified as having standards that are equivalent to U.S. standards. DeLauro bill requires standards that are “equal to” U.S. standards. This is a significant difference in the world of trade policy – equal to is a more stringent standard.
    Minimum inspection frequency – Dingell bill’s minimum inspection frequency for food plants is once every 4 years, with risk based formula to determine frequency. DeLauro bill has categories of types of plants with most frequent inspection for non-USDA-inspected meat plants (deer, elk, etc.) and least frequent for storage/shipping facilities. In DeLauro bill, most frequent inspection is daily and least frequent is annual.
    Traceability – Dingell bill extends traceability requirements of Bioterrorism Act to farms and restaurant (this is one step forward and back recordkeeping). Also mandates standardized electronic records and standardized lot numbers. DeLauro bill calls for establishment of traceability system but leaves design of system up to administrator of new food safety agency and explicitly says that the agency is not required to pick a specific technology for identification or recordkeeping.

    Right now the food industry is not happy with the Dingell bill because of the user fee (registration fee) requirement. They have not said much about DeLauro bill. The Dingell bill may end up being the one that moves first and farthest – he still plays a key role on the Energy and Commerce Committee where this needs to happen. One scenario is that DeLauro ends up trying to insert as much of her bill as she can into the Dingell bill.
    As far as small farm concerns go – the Dingell bill does not leave a lot of room for the FDA to have discretion in setting up traceability and produce safety standards. The DeLauro bill calls for many of the same things to be established, but gives the new agency more discretion in establishing these systems.
    Some specifics on each bill:


    S. 425

    A bill to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to provide for the establishment of a traceability system for food, to amend the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspections Act, the Egg Products Inspection Act, and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to provide for improved public health and food safety through enhanced enforcement, and for other purposes.

    Sponsor: Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

    Cosponsors: None

    - Within 3 years of enactment, FDA must establish a traceability system “for all stages of manufacturing, processing, packaging, and distribution of food.”
    - System must allow retrieval of history, use, and location of item through a recordkeeping and audit system, a secure online database, or registered identification.
    - The specifics of the traceability system will be determined by the agency, with advice from an advisory committee that has 1 year to come up with recommendations. Committee told to consider several approaches to traceability: FDA-operated database/registry; electronic records about each step of production that includes information that food safety rules were followed; standardized tracking numbers on all shipments; recall performance standards for each food type; safeguards for repacking, mixing; other approaches.
    - Authorizes appropriations of $40,000,000 for 2010 to 2012.
    - For USDA (meat, poultry, and eggs) – establishes mandatory recall authority for agency and associated procedures (appeal process, etc.)
    - Allows USDA to issue civil penalties for failure to recall.
    - Gives FDA mandatory recall authority for adulterated or misbranded food products and authority to issue civil penalties for failure to recall.

    H.R. 814
    The Tracing and Recalling Agricultural Contamination Everywhere Act of 2009 (TRACE Act)

    Sponsor: Diana DeGette (D-CO)

    Cosponsors: Madeleine Bordalla (D – Guam), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)
    - Would require establishment of a traceability system for “all stages of manufacturing, processing, packaging, and distribution of food.”
    - System would apply to all food shipped in interstate commerce.
    - Food must be indentified in manner that enables retrieval of history of use and location through “recordkeeping and audit system or registered identification.”
    - Also establishes a traceability system for livestock – cattle, sheep, swine, goat, horses, mules, and other equines presented for slaughter for human food purposes – and meat and meat food products of these animals.
    - USDA can prohibit entry into any USDA inspected slaughter facility not identified under this system.
    - System must allow traceback to any premises at which animal was held at any time before slaughter and carcass/meat products must be able to be traced forward through processing and distribution to ultimate consumer.
    - Establishes a traceability system for poultry (similar provisions).
    - Establishes a traceability system for eggs and egg products (similar provisions).

    Food Safety/Agency Structure

    H.R. 875

    Food Safety Modernization Act

    Sponsor: Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)

    Rep Berkley, Shelley [NV-1]
    Rep Bishop, Sanford D., Jr. [GA-2]
    Rep Bishop, Timothy H. [NY-1]
    Rep Carson, Andre [IN-7]
    Rep Castor, Kathy [FL-11]
    Rep DeFazio, Peter A. [OR-4]
    Rep DeGette, Diana [CO-1]
    Rep Engel, Eliot L. [NY-17]
    Rep Eshoo, Anna G. [CA-14]
    Rep Farr, Sam [CA-17]
    Rep Filner, Bob [CA-51]
    Rep Giffords, Gabrielle [AZ-8]
    Rep Grijalva, Raul M. [AZ-7]
    Rep Hall, John J. [NY-19]
    Rep Hinchey, Maurice D. [NY-22]
    Rep Hirono, Mazie K. [HI-2]
    Rep Johnson, Eddie Bernice [TX-30]
    Rep Kaptur, Marcy [OH-9]
    Rep Lee, Barbara [CA-9]
    Rep Lowey, Nita M. [NY-18]
    Rep McCollum, Betty [MN-4]
    Rep McDermott, Jim [WA-7]
    Rep McGovern, James P. [MA-3]
    Rep Moore, Gwen [WI-4]
    Rep Murphy, Christopher S. [CT-5]
    Rep Nadler, Jerrold [NY-8]
    Rep Norton, Eleanor Holmes [DC]
    Rep Pingree, Chellie [ME-1]
    Rep Ryan, Tim [OH-17]
    Rep Sanchez, Linda T. [CA-39]
    Rep Schakowsky, Janice D. [IL-9]
    Rep Schauer, Mark H. [MI-7]
    Rep Slaughter, Louise McIntosh [NY-28]
    Rep Stark, Fortney Pete [CA-13]
    Rep Sutton, Betty [OH-13]
    Rep Wasserman Schultz, Debbie [FL-20]

    - Establishes a new agency – Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services. Headed by Administrator of Food Safety, who is appointed by President.
    - This new department takes food safety responsibilities currently held by FDA – Center for Veterinary Medicine, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, National Center for Toxicological Research, Office of Regulatory Affairs (inspection, labs), voluntary seafood inspection activities of National Marine Fisheries Service (Commerce) – and moves them into new agency.
    - It does NOT affect authority of USDA to inspect meat and poultry.
    - Agency’s authority applies to food that enters interstate commerce.
    - Requires annual registration of food establishments (domestic and foreign.) “Establishment” is entity engaged in manufacturing, processing, packing, or holding of food for consumption. (same definition as Bioterrorism Act.)
    - Requires establishments to establish process controls for preventing contamination – sanitation plan, recordkeeping, sampling to ensure effectiveness of process controls – and to allow access to records by agency.
    - Creates obligation for establishments to disclose to agency any testing that finds contamination.
    - Agency must establish performance standards for 5 most significant contaminants within 3 years. Agency will perform sampling program to assess compliance with performance standards – failure is enforceable with recall, seizure of product, withdrawal of inspection
    - Establishes frequency of inspection based on type of establishment (categories 1-5). Most frequent is daily inspection for Category 1(meat plants outside of USDA inspection – “non amenable” species such as elk, deer, etc.) Least frequent is annual inspection for Category 5 (establishments that store or transport products for retail sale.)
    - Farms are considered “food production facilities” (“farms, ranches, orchards, vineyards, aquaculture facilities and animal feeding operations.”) Gives new agency authority to visit and inspect these facilities. Specifics of regulations to apply to these facilities to be determined by agency – but calls for recordkeeping (in any format) and “good practice standards.”
    - Agency can issue variance to accommodate local growing conditions if equivalent standards are met.
    - Requires imported food to meet standards at least equal to food produced in U.S. (this is important language – “equal to” is stronger than “equivalent.”)
    - Agency must establish system for accrediting foreign governments or certifying agents to certify that foreign establishments meet equal standards.
    - Requires routine inspection of imported food and puts some limitations on which ports food from certain establishments can enter (based on presence of accredited food testing laboratory).
    - Requires new agency to establish a traceback system for food – specifics to be determine by agency. Applies to domestic and foreign.
    - Does NOT require new agency to prescribe a specific technology for recordkeeping or labeling.
    - Establishes mandatory recall authority
    - Several mandates on food safety research and inspector training
    - Establishes civil and criminal penalties for violating food safety laws.
    - New agency to provide technical assistance to farmers and food establishments that meet definition of small business.

    H.R. 759

    Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act of 2009

    Sponsor: Rep. Dingell (D-MI)


    Rep Stupak, Bart [MI-1]
    Rep Pallone, Frank, Jr. [NJ-6]
    Rep Christensen, Donna M. [VI]
    Rep DeGette, Diana [CO-1]
    Rep Sarbanes, John P. [MD-3]
    Rep Sutton, Betty [OH-13]

    - Applies to FDA, not USDA meat inspection
    - Requires all food facilities (“manufactures, packs, transports, or holds food for consumption”) to register with FDA annually – applies to domestic and foreign plants that export to U.S.
    - Applies user fee (“registration fee”) to each facility. (also allows FDA to charge user fee to U.S. facilities that need agency to issue export certificates so they can export to other countries.)
    - Requires food establishments to have food safety plans that are subject to review by FDA inspectors and third parties. Includes keeping records to show effectiveness of food safety measures. Records must be kept for 2 years. (this whole section relies heavily on HACCP-style language.)
    - Instructs FDA to consider the capacity of small businesses when developing guidance or regulations. Small and very small businesses have longer to comply (2 and 3 years.)
    - FDA inspection frequency determined by risk. Minimum inspection frequency is four years.
    - Requires foreign establishments to be certified by third parties accredited by FDA.
    - Creates fast track process for pre-approved importers – must meet voluntary security guidelines.
    - Directs FDA to issue regulations for safe production/harvesting of fruit and vegetables, with instruction to prioritize “specific fruits and vegetables that are raw agricultural commodities and have been associated with food-borne illness outbreaks.”
    - Calls for public input (through not less than 3 public meetings) on development of good agricultural practices for produce. Gives agency 1 year to publish.
    - Expands traceability requirements of Bioterrorism Act to farms and restaurants (this is one step forward/back recordkeeping.)
    - Mandates standardized electronic records (currently, BTA allows paper or electronic). Also requires standardized lot numbers.
    - Requires country of origin labeling for processed foods – label on package must indicate country of final processing. Website of manufacturer must list origin of all ingredients in processed foods.
    - Expands FDA laboratory testing capacity and process for FDA to accredit labs used for food safety testing.
    - Mandatory recall authority for FDA.
    - Establishes civil penalties for food safety violations.
    - Requires mandatory labeling of meat, poultry, seafood treated with carbon monoxide and notice to consumers not to use color as indication of freshness.
    - Requires a request for GRAS determination to be made public, as well as FDA’s decision (this is process FDA uses for determining if food ingredients are allowable – designation is that the ingredient is ‘Generally Recognized as Safe’ – it is very abused and not at all transparent.)
    - Instructs FDA to identify approaches to minimize food safety hazards and improve food safety surveillance system.
    - Second half of the bill applies to FDA’s authority on drug and medical device safety.

    Here is Sen. Sherrod Brown’s reply to recent comments on S. 425:

    There has been recent confusion among the organic farming community over the intent behind S.425, the Food Safety and Tracking Improvement Act. While improving our food traceability system is a high priority for me, I am not interested in creating new and un-called for requirements for any farmers.
    S.425 would simply instruct the Food and Drug Administration to establish a mechanism for national trace-back in the case of a food recall. It keeps
    current exemptions for farms and restaurants in place, and does not intend to create any barriers to organic and family farmers. As this legislation progresses, I want you to know that I would be willing, if necessary, to make these exemptions more explicit to ensure a strong and thriving farm sector.

    As the first Ohioan on the Senate Agriculture Committee in forty years, I
    was proud to help craft the 2008 Farm Bill, which has aided the development of organic agriculture. I support efforts to expand the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and provide cost-share for organic certification. I also introduced legislation to create the Healthy Urban Enterprise Development Center, intended to be a clearinghouse of information and small grants to spur the creation of the infrastructure that will serve the development of local food systems, especially those that provide access for underserved populations.

    From Sherrod Brown

    Food Safety Bills of 2009
    By Martha Goodsell

    Internet users are up in arms regarding House Bill 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act, but much of what is circulating over the network is hype and inflated fears. However, that’s not to say that HR 875 is not a threat to both small scale and organic farmers and those consumers who support such farms. In its present form, it is a very real- though not a highly probable- threat. HR 875 is not the only food safety bill recently proposed following the peanut butter contamination. There are six other bills that must be monitored.

    There are two federal agencies charged with food safety. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for wholesome meat and poultry under the guidelines of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the other hand, has the responsibility for oversight of manufactured food products, and all those products not under USDA jurisdiction. Unlike the USDA who inspects products and ensures Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) compliance in slaughterhouses and in meat and poultry product processing facilities, the FDA is charged with the annual inspection of manufacturing facilities. Only a few products monitored by the FDA are required to have and follow HACCP plans.

    Thanks to Upton Sinclair, and his book The Jungle, the USDA oversight on meat and poultry is much stricter than for other food products currently. Many of these bills are looking to change that, by requiring food manufacturers to have and follow HACCP plans, which includes strict record keeping requirements. Unfortunately HACCP implementation poses a greater obstacle to small plants compared to larger facilities. Thus, the single greatest problem with all of these newly proposed food safety bills are that they are not designed with small and large operations in mind. Rather, they are written with a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Knowing that many small operations will chose to close their doors, rather than comply with testing, record keeping, and all sorts of other requirements, these bills indirectly interfere with the rights of individuals to choose their foods. This threat of losing small farms – and thus one’s food choice- is feeding the current hysteria.

    To read more about the bills visit Please contact your Washington representatives to express your support or opposition to the bills. Let’s take a look at what’s pending:

    HR 875 – The Food Safety Modernization Act, sponsored by Rosa Delauro (D- CT) (whose husband works for Monsanto) has 30 co-sponsors at this time. This bill splits the FDA into two units: one which would monitor food and the other to monitor medicinal drugs and medical devices. (The FDA is charged with monitoring both food and drugs so this is only a new approach, not a new duty.) The bill would increase the number – or frequency – of inspections. HR 875 would require HACCP plans. It would also require imports to meet US standards. (Currently as long as a foreign country has an “equivalent” inspection system, product is accepted with little or no further questions or testing.) HR 875 would establish a national traceability system that would require tracking “the history, use, and location of an item of food”. Section 3.13A specifically exempts those operations currently under USDA inspection under the FMIA or PPIA acts and section 3.14 exempts any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation.

    S425 – Food Safety and Tracking Improvement Act, sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has no co-sponsors. This senate bill would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to provide for the establishment of a traceability system so that each article of food shipped in interstate commerce would require a full record keeping system. An audit system would provide for compliance. Premise registration would be mandatory. S425 amends the FMIA so that any person that has reason to believe that any carcass, part of a carcass, meat, or meat food product is inappropriately transported, stored, distributed, or otherwise mis-handled resulting in adulteration or misbranding shall serve notice to the secretary who shall then call on industry to withdraw the product. The PPIA and the Egg Product Inspection Act (EPIA) would be amended in the same fashion.

    HR 814 – Tracing and Recalling Agricultural Contamination Everywhere Act, sponsored by Diana DeGette (D-CO) has five co-sponsors. HR 814 would direct the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a traceability system for all stages of manufacturing, processing, packaging, and distribution of food. HR 814 would amend the FMIA by requiring identification and traceability for all cattle, sheep, swine, goats, and horses, mules, and other equines presented for slaughter. Without an identification number, farm records, and the ability to trace an animal’s movement, such an animal can not be presented for slaughter. The PPIA and the EPIA would be amended to establish similar provisions for poultry and poultry products and for eggs and egg products. It is interesting to note that nothing contained in HR 814 supports Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements.

    HR 759- The Food And Drug Administration Globalization Act, sponsored by John Dingell (D- MI) with eight co-sponsors, would require every food facility that manufactures, processes, packs, transports, or holds food for consumption in the United States to develop and implement a HACCP and food safety plan. HR 759 would require that all food facilities use standard lot numbers and that all facilities including food processors, farms and restaurants, keep electronic records. Food facilities must earn an accreditation status. This bill instructs the FDA to establish production standards for fruits and vegetables and to establish Good Agricultural Practices for produce and requiring those that grow and sell fresh fruits and vegetables to have a HACCP plan. COOL would be required. Only certified laboratories could conduct sampling and testing of food to ensure compliance.

    S 429 – Ending Agricultural Threats: Safeguarding America’s Food for Everyone (EAT SAFE) Act of 2009, sponsored by Senator Robert Casey (D- PA) with only one co-sponsor, focuses on imported and smuggled foods. This bill directs the Secretary of Agriculture to establish food safety and agroterrorism training programs. Notification of recalled food products would be provided to the public while notice of smuggled food products would be reported to the public and to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This bill amends the FMIA and the PPIA to establish civil penalties for failure to present imported meat and poultry products for inspection and requires the use of federally certified food safety labs for product testing. A food-borne illness education and outreach grant program would be established.

    S 510 – A bill to amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to the safety of the food supply sponsored by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) has 8 co-sponsors currently. This bill addresses the concerns of government to the use of or exposure to certain foods. If the Secretary of Agriculture believes that there is a reasonable probability that the use of or exposure to an article of food will cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals, each person who manufactures, processes, packs, distributes, receives, holds, or imports such article shall provide access to that food article and to all records relating to such article. HACCP and preventive controls would be required for all manufacturers, processors, packers, distributors, receivers, holders, or importers. Safety standards would be established for production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables. All premises would be required to be registered and pay annual inspection fees. The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Agriculture, would facilitate public-private partnerships to help unify and enhance the protection of the agriculture and food system of the United States; including the sharing of information and intelligence relating to agriculture and the food system. The three agencies would identify best practices and methods for improving the coordination among Federal, State, local, and private sector preparedness and response plans for agriculture and food defense and would recommend methods to protect the economy and the public health of the United States from the effects of animal or plant disease outbreaks, food contamination and natural disasters affecting agriculture and food.

    HR 1332 – Safe FEAST Act of 2009, sponsored by Jim Costa (D-CA) with 19 cosponsors. This is very similar to the senate bill S 510. All food manufacturers, processes, packers, or those who hold food for sale would be required to be registered. If the Secretary determines that food manufactured, processed, packed, or held by a facility has a reasonable probability of causing serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals, the Secretary may suspend the registration of the facility. In addition to having access to records and the product, the Secretary may direct the facility to order a recall. In addition to HACCP plans and record keeping requirements facilities would be required to: follow sanitation procedures, establish hygiene training, establish monitoring programs for environmental pathogen controls, implement an allergen control program, develop a recall contingency plan; follow Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs); and verify source suppliers. HR 1332 would encourage the building of domestic capacity through coordinated councils which would in part identify potential threats to the food supply and would establish surveillance systems through integrated networks.

  13. Bob S. says

    There is obfuscating language in this bill designed to confuse and redirect your attention to thinking by implication rather than specification. This is cleverly illustrated using the words “include(s)”, “exclude(s)” and custom definitions. So let’s take a look at an example.

    (a) In General- Any food establishment or foreign food establishment engaged in manufacturing, processing, packing, or holding food for consumption in the United States shall register annually with the Administrator.

    Notice that annual registration is limited to a Food Establishment or foreign food establishment. One cannot imply that this extends beyond these two entities as defined in the definitions section and only those that engage in manufacturing, processing, packing or holding food for consumption.

    Before I get to what is a Food Establishment or foreign food establishment, let me give you an example of the use of include and typical efforts employed to muddy the waters.

    To start with we must recognize that if a word is meant to be understood as having its common meaning, there is no need to define it at all. It is axiomatic that if a word is explicitly defined, it has a restricted meaning. If language such as the term “Fruit” is used and defined as “includes, apples, oranges, and pears”, it can only be understood as restricting the definition to those things listed, or no definition would be required; the word “fruit” would be understood to include apples, oranges and pears, as well as all other fruits. If the word “common” is left out of the definition, then the things used in the definition are what establish the class to which belong, and as the word is being deliberately defined, the common meaning of the word must be excluded.

    Under the definitions section:


    (A) IN GENERAL- The term ‘food establishment’ means a slaughterhouse (except those regulated under the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act), factory, warehouse, or facility owned or operated by a person located in any State that processes food or a facility that holds, stores, or transports food or food ingredients.

    (B) EXCLUSIONS- For the purposes of registration, the term ‘food establishment’ does not include a food production facility as defined in paragraph (14), restaurant, other retail food establishment, nonprofit food establishment in which food is prepared for or served directly to the consumer, or fishing vessel (other than a fishing vessel engaged in processing, as that term is defined in section 123.3 of title 21, Code of Federal Regulations).

    (14) FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITY- The term ‘food production facility’ means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation.

    So a Food Establishment is not a farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, confined animal-feeding operation. This is a custom definition, is specific and no other implications can be drawn as meaning something else. Note that farm, ranch …. since not custom defined, have a common definition without exclusion or inclusion. I do not have cites to their common definition.

    In addition to the above, a Food Establishment is not a resturant, retail food establishment, nonprofit food establishment or fishing vessel (as limited in definition to section 123.3 of title 21 of CFR). Again, resturant, retail food establishment …. have a common definition without exclusion or inclusion.

    There is a specific class of actions as custom defined by ‘Process’, all of them being Commercial.

    (19) PROCESS- The term ‘process’ or ‘processing’ means the commercial slaughter, packing, preparation, or manufacture of food.

    Note this means Commercial slaughter, commercial packing, commercial preparation, commercial manufacture of food.

    There is another specific class of actions not defined but listed as holds, stores, or transports. Common definitions apply here.

    Also, there is a geographical constraint that limits this to any State. What is a State?

    (20) STATE- The term ‘State’ means–

    (A) a State;

    (B) the District of Columbia;

    (C) the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; and

    (D) any other territory or possession of the United States.

    This is important since we move to the only other entity required to register annually, a foreign food establishment.

    (16) FOREIGN FOOD ESTABLISHMENT- The term ‘foreign food establishment’ means any category 1 through 5 food establishment or food production facility located outside the United States that processes or produces food or food ingredients for consumption in the United States.

    Look at what has happened here. The Food Establishment custom definition does not apply since the location is specific and “located outside the United States” and does not fall within the confines of a ‘State’. Therefore the exclusions of “(14) Food Production Facility” do not apply.

    This makes this particular entity far more reaching than the restrictive entity of a “Food Establishment” located in a ‘State’.

    What does all this mean?

    If you do not fall under the custom definition of a “Food Establishment” you are not required to register. If you are not required to register then there is no categorization of you as a Category 1 thru 5, you can’t be assigned a registration number, there is no inspection, monitoring, or reporting requirements. This is however not a statement that you are not obligated to practice good health standards.

  14. a adelo says

    the fine was not UP TO $1,000,000 NOT AUTOMATICALLY A MILLION DOLLAR FINE FOR NOT REGISTERING. Read things carefully

  15. Stina Marie Santiestevan says

    By all means, let’s stop this attempt to further Monsanto’s and the food industry’s hold on the food economy. Small, local producers and genuinely organic farmers need to be encouraged and assisted, not harassed and impeded. We can make our food supply safe without endangering this fragile but essential cottage industry. Stina M Santiestevan

  16. kltcal says

    I see in the above overview of the bill under discussion that the new proposed Agency will address Interstate Commerce operations:

    Establishes a new agency – Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services. Headed by Administrator of Food Safety, who is appointed by President.
    - This new department takes food safety responsibilities currently held by FDA – Center for Veterinary Medicine, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, National Center for Toxicological Research, Office of Regulatory Affairs (inspection, labs), voluntary seafood inspection activities of National Marine Fisheries Service (Commerce) – and moves them into new agency.
    - It does NOT affect authority of USDA to inspect meat and poultry.
    - Agency’s authority applies to food that enters interstate commerce.

    if this is correct then a LOCAL farmers market/local cow share etc would not be subject to Federal regulators? But of course if you live near the border of state A and want to sell your honey/apples/almonds in State B, you would be?

    Also this concept of a Food Establishment as a separate entity from a single farm or a single restaurant seems a bit confusing.

    • Jenny says

      It’s my understanding that the new bill does affect local farmers transporting their goods locally. While the bill does NOT directly regulate direct marketing by farmers (i.e. farmers markets, CSAs, cow share etc), it does mandate that anyone transporting foods from the point of origin to a secondary point for sale be subject to these regulations and fines. In this respect, even local farmers would be affected; further, since the bill fails to differentiate between the size of the operation every grower who engages in any sales outside of the property of origin is affected regardless of locality. Because of that regulation, it indirectly affects local farmers markets, CSAs etc.

  17. Jeff says

    While the language of this bill does disturb me I’m also dubious about the bordering on hysteria tone of this article. Jenny, according to you have at least one major argument you make is based on misleading information. Rep. DeLauro’s husband, Stanley greenberg, has not had any business dealings with Monsanto for over a decade. We all need to keep our facts as clean as possible if we’re to be taken seriously n our efforts to promote local, organic, and family run farming.

    • Jenny says

      Hi Jeff-
      I’m not sure what’s misleading about stating that Stanley Greenberg’s clients have included Monsanto. It’s absolutely true – even if that work took place 10 years ago or yesterday. Regarding tone, I speak from a personal note and that is unlikely to change. is a personal site and my readership comes here not only for information on health, wellness, food and food politics but also because this is a personal journey that they can share with me. Organic Consumers and other sites like those fill the niche for the impersonal and they do it well, but that’s not the focus at nor is it likely to be.

  18. jrc says

    I’m afraid Jeff, Bob S., et al are missing the point; in fact, their arguments are precisely the kind of pseudo-balm which statists like DeLauro hand out to defend attempts at over-reaching. This bill is currently just a ‘resolution’, like so many attempts at getting a foot (or two) into the door. Yet chances are good the ‘resolution’ will be magically transformed into an act – it even CALLS ITSELF an act.

    The points are: 1) This ACT establishes yet one more federal bureaucracy with vaguely defined powers, easily increased or abused in this day of Washington Run Riot with unconstitutional power. Can anyone seriously doubt that those newly-granted ‘powers’ WILL be abused?

    and 2), for those that have no knowledge of what happened in the Soviet Union shortly after the revolution: take a look at the history of collectivization of farms under the Bolsheviks. Millions and millions of small farmers, objecting to being ordered to move off their small farms onto state farms, were simply machine-gunned by the red guard.

    It’s all about power, people. And another slogan from the Russian Revolution: “No Enemy On The Left!” – sound like anything going on these days?

    Look at all the enormous bills passed since Jan 20, with no time to even look at them. Now we find many little hidden ‘sleeper’ sections which dramatically increase federal power in unconstitutional ways. This is the promised ‘TRANSPARENCY’ ? This is just fascist statism.

  19. Ben says

    How dare they!! Those jackasses in congress don’t know crap!! They just come up with random things!

    What will happen to Subway Restaurants! Hope they find other ways of getting food, cause I still work there.

  20. says

    Thanks for your article. I’ve been looking over HR875 and I am trying to understand how, via the law, this would effect an individual, say, planting his own garden for family use? Do you know where it is reference about individual gardens or does it only effect those who sale their produce?

    Also, question regarding churches or other non-profits who sale tickets to events and serve food. Will this effect them as well. Can you site which clause in the bill??

    Appreciate your comments and thanks for posting this subject matter and making folks aware.

  21. Jenny says

    Hi Sandy -
    This bill only affects home gardeners if they also sell their produce. For example, in my community, we have several home gardeners who sell extra lettuce or other veggies at the farmers market community booth but who do not otherwise engage in sales. These gardeners would be affected by the bill as it is currently written because they transport food for sale. However, if you’re just planting food for your own family and don’t transport it for sale, you’re unaffected. The law doesn’t specifically state that home gardeners are affected; however, the bill fails to exclude them from the requirements so they are included by default.

    Regarding church sales similar to what you’re discussing, I don’t recall having read anything in the bill that would affect them. So you’re probably okay and just subject to local/state health codes.

  22. Phyllis Marcum says

    Dear Mr. Shuler,

    This bill must be stopped. We should have every right in this great country to choose to buy organic or not.

    As you well know, organic is the safest, healthiest that we can consume.

    Thank you.
    Ms. Marcum
    Brevard, NC 28712

  23. Sally L. Rubis says

    HR 875 does not distinguish between personal slaughter and custom slaughter as it is exempted in the Federal Meat Inspection Act/Poultry Inspection Act. It is my view that HR 875 will bring these two classes under their perview as Class 1 Food Establishments – Custom Slaughter is exempt but under provisions by the Secretary, if HR 875 passes – personal slaughter – or even the potenial thereof will be in this class. Facility is the word used in FDA language, which states
    that individual home owners are not designated as a facility. Facility is defined along with the rest of the terms…establishment is not defined. However Class 1 food establishments are defined as those establishments exempt from Federal Meat Inspection/Poultry Inspection act. This is as clearly murky by design, do not wade in these treacherous waters,
    and of course oppose this devious HR 875. No time to edit, sorry for any typos/

    Check out Sally L. Rubis’s last post: MONSANTO a.k.a. FOUR HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE.

  24. Heather says

    Dear Representative Gerlach,

    I’m writing to inform you of my opposition to bill HR 875, also known as the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009.

    HR 875, which was introduced by Congresswoman Rosa Delauro, will be needlessly damaging to all farm-to-consumer activity in our nation. In this time of great economic uncertainty the local food movement has provided a glimmer of hope, a glimpse of a path that might lead us, as a nation, out our depression.

    It has been made clear, from the new administration’s recent campaign that grass roots efforts work — That they are effective and powerful. We are capable of creating big change by organizing locally. This is the model that will also save our food chain.

    I recognize that it seems like having many small farms would be a logistical nightmare and much more difficult to monitor than having fewer larger ones, yet a look at our recent food scares should quickly negate this argument. All of our tainted foods have come from large agribusiness with supposedly rigid standards.

    We must not allow fear to end our support for local farmers. Now is when we need to support them and help them grow. We cannot let the interests of the giant agribusinesses deny us of eggs hatched at our local CSAs, or lettuce grown down the road and sold at the local farm stand.

    These are our civic spaces, our communal places; we need them to thrive again. We must support small farmers in our nation. Our future depends on it.

    Our communities are being made stronger and healthier with the greater availability of locally grown food. It is imperative that giant agribusinesses are not the sole providers of food in this nation.

    I implore you to oppose HR 875 – The Food Safety and Modernization Act – and to urge other congressmen and women to do the same.

    Thank you for your time.


  25. Hung Fao Tweeze says

    If you remember anything do remember that such ilk as Monsanto and cronies have a vested interest in seeing this bill passed. It’s all about profit! They aren’t producing barren seeds for the betterment of man, they aren’t copyrighting genomes out of a concern for man’s future, they aren’t suing farmers for circumstantially having their copyrighted pollen (for producing barren seeds) wind-borne pollinating their ‘normal’ corn crops because they love the idea of the homeland American farm…it’s profit and profit alone that drives Monsanto and subsidiaries. Also keep an eye on their blitzkrieg attempts to takeover the water rights of third world countries.

  26. the monk says

    Interesting…I believe the communists did this in Russia as well…which led to serious food shortages.

  27. Leif Oldhart says

    Not to spread doom and gloom, but if you people allow this bill to be passed into law and enforced, you deserve extinction. Plain and simple.

    Now, it’s probably going to be passed into law one way or another. Understand? Name one repressive so-called “law” now on the books that YOU actually desired or had a chance to vote for. None of them, right? These “laws” that have stripped you of all semblance of Unalienable Rights? Why? Because your elected officials are whores, owned and operated by… well, you know who owns them, don’t you?

    As I see it, your only choice is that when the inspector comes, you take him and crucify him on the side of your barn or garage. And do it that to the next one as well. If you are arrested, then you can be tried by a jury of your peers. If you don’t want to be tried by a jury of brainwashed, dumbed down morons, then resist and perish! Not so palatable, eh? Tell that to all the soldiers who died fighting for your Rights… or so they imagined. As we both know, they were actually fighting for… well, you know who they were fighting for, don’t you.

    If the truth is not palatable and the solution not pleasant, then stop complaining and crawl on your belly and lick the hand that feeds you (frankenfood). Have a nice day.

  28. beverly trout says

    when i was growing up (on a farm), we WASHED our veggies when we brought them in, everything that was grown, slaughtered etc. was processed immediately and frozen or cooked, what ever was required.

    Are people so lazy or (uneducated) that if they cant properly prepare their
    food that farmers and grocers are held responsible? ( there are special circumstances) but for the most part, 20 people go into a store and pick that head of cabbage or package of meat up and set it down for another, I personally think that is more of a health hazard than the small farmers and their fresh produce etc. PLEASE do not follow through with this. PLEASE STOP the HN 185 bill. thank you.

  29. Jenny says

    Beverly -

    I just want to thank you for your comments today.  I really hope that we start seeing a lot more personal responsibility and a lot more accountability for big agriculture.  Small farms, as you well know, do not need and should not have to shoulder the burden of these regulations.

    - Jenny

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