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Friday, June 26, 2009

Important Information and Action Alert on H.R. 2749:Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009

Please read the following information on HR 2749. The concern is that the real intent behind the food safety bill is to extend the powers of the government and though representatives in Washington write reassuring emails about the intent, the fact is that the language of the law is interpreted literally and "intent" has no meaning in most courts since the spirit of the law appears to be missing in the psyche of judges.

Alarming Provisions:
* HR 2749 would impose an annual registration fee of $500 on any "facility" that holds, processes, or manufactures food. Although "farms" are exempt, the agency has defined "farm" narrowly. And people making foods such as lacto-fermented vegetables, cheeses, or breads would be required to register and pay the fee, which could drive beginning and small producers out of business during difficult economic times.
* HR 2749 would empower FDA to regulate how crops are raised and harvested. It puts the federal government right on the farm, dictating to our farmers.
* HR 2749 would give FDA the power to order a quarantine of a geographic area, including "prohibiting or restricting the movement of food or of any vehicle being used or that has been used to transport or hold such food within the geographic area." Under this provision, farmers markets and local food sources could be shut down, even if they are not the source of the contamination. The agency can halt all movement of all food in a geographic area.
* HR 2749 would empower FDA to make random warrantless searches of the business records of small farmers and local food producers, without any evidence whatsoever that there has been a violation. Even farmers selling direct to consumers would have to provide the federal government with records on where they buy supplies, how they raise their crops, and a list of customers.
* HR 2749 charges the Secretary of Health and Human Services with establishing a tracing system for food. Each "person who produces, manufactures, processes, packs, transports, or holds such food" would have to "maintain the full pedigree of the origin and previous distribution history of the food," and "establish and maintain a system for tracing the food that is interoperable with the systems established and maintained by other such persons." The bill does not explain how far the traceback will extend or how it will be done for multi-ingredient foods. With all these ambiguities, it's far from clear how much it will cost either the farmers or the taxpayers.
* HR 2749 creates severe criminal and civil penalties, including prison terms of up to 10 years and/or fines of up to $100,000 for each violation for individuals.

5 MINUTE ACTION on HR 2749 FOOD SAFETY on Small Farms
1- Sign the "Oppose HR 2749" petition on the Fund website ( and send messages to your legislators through the petition system.
2- Contact your Representative. Use the finder tool at
3. Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
4- Send a message through the petition system at
5- forward this message to your friends. Take my name off the forward, please.


A further amended version of HR 2749 passed out of the Energy and Commerce Committee on June 17. The bill next goes to House floor for a vote. HR 2749 could be amended again before the vote takes place.
The worst provisions of HR 2749 remain in the bill. The latest version does, however, reduce the amount of civil fines that can be assessed against individuals and corporations; but the fines FDA can levy under the latest amendment are still substantial.
The bill has tightened the standards under which the federal government can quarantine food in a geographic area; but the Secretary of Health and Human Services is still given the power to impose a geographic quarantine without a court order.
The latest version of HR 2749 can be found at
HR 2749 needs to be defeated!! Please take action NOW.

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