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Yesterday, the Senate voted to take up consideration of S.510, the so-called Food Safety Modernization Act, which would grant the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) more control over our diets. The supposed intention behind the legislation is to protect consumers from food-borne illnesses. But will it really?
If passed, the misnamed Food Safety and Modernization Act would authorize the FDA to tell farmers how to grow their crops. Federal bureaucrats who likely know little to nothing about farming will set the guidelines on appropriate temperatures, what soil to use, how much water to use and what animals are allowed to be on certain fields.
A study by Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) office states “on the whole this bill represents a weighty new regulatory structure on the food industry that will be particularly difficult for small producers and farms to comply with (with little evidence it will make food safer)”
Sen. Jon Tester has introduced the “Tester Amendment” which would allegedly prevent these harmful regulations from affecting small family farms. However, Campaign for Liberty says these regulations will still be imposed on whoever the FDA decides. It could even affect your home garden if you sell vegetables or fruits at a local farmers market.
President John Tate states: “Don’t fall for their rhetoric about a few provisions that supposedly address concerns of small-scale farmers; the FDA still has all the power it needs to shut down family farms on a whim. In other words, it will be up to bureaucrats to decide whether or not local food production is decimated by federal regulations or shut down.”
The Congressional Budget Office has calculated that this overreaching bill would cost $1.4 billion between 2011 and 2015. To carry out these new rules, the federal government will hire over 17,000 new bureaucrats. Food producers will likely spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually complying with these unnecessary government regulations. This cost will be passed onto consumers in the form of higher food prices. Big agriculture is one of the largest proponents of the bill since it will likely destroy their competitors who cannot afford the high cost of these regulations.
Since the egg salmonella scare last summer, the misguided bill has gained momentum in the Senate. However, over-regulation—not a lack of regulation— is largely to blame for the recent outbreak of salmonella. According to the Wall Street Journal, “USDA graders pointed to increasingly unsanitary conditions at Wright County Egg — but that the agriculture agency didn’t flag the problems to the FDA…”
Since the FDA is one of 15 agencies that administer numerous laws related to food safety, overlapping and inconsistent oversight often occurs. According to a Government Accountability Office testimony, the FDA and USDA have 1,451 duplicative inspections of food-producing facilities annually. Shouldn’t we seek to get rid of waste and duplicative inspections—not add even more burdensome regulation? The bill would increase the number of inspections and tax food producers to do so.
Since 1996, The Heritage Foundation states that food-borne illnesses have reduced by one third. The free market has provided technological advances that have made food much safer. But why does it seem that food-borne illnesses have increased within recent years? Cato Institute scholar Walter Olsen states “Despite the image that there are more food safety crises in recent years, the reality is that… we are just much better at identifying and tracking the crisis.”
With the economy still suffering, we cannot afford even more burdensome job killing regulation. We must stop this dangerous bill that could destroy independent family farms that provide healthy food choices. Please contact your representatives today and tell to oppose this unconstitutional takeover of food producers!