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HR 875 Regulates Homesteaders, Gardeners and Organic Farmers

March 15th, 2009 · 1 Comment

The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 (HR 875) is the government’s attempt to protect the public from food bourne illnesses and contaminants.  It sounds like a good thing and after the last year or so, we would seem to need additional regulations but be forewarned, the bill as it is written now will affect every small farmer and homesteader and everyone who has ever sold a tomato at a farmers market.

If you read this bill carefully you will see that the definition of a “Food Production Facility” is ” any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility or confined animal feeding operation.”

Now that you have been labeled a Food Production Facility, what does that mean?

  • It gives the authorities the right to enter your farm, homestead or ranch at any time without a warrant to inspect.
  • It will require you to have a food safety plan showing how you are going to insure the safety of the produce.
  • It requires you  to track each animal and all plants.
  • It will require you to keep records regarding the feed, fertilizer, hygiene, water etc to make sure that your animals and plants are healthy.

On the surface, this is not necessarily a bad thing.  We all want to prevent another tragedy like the recent one with peanuts.  However, the government doesn’t always work the way it should.  The recent raid on an Ohio family who were running an organic food coop is a good example of this.  This family was raided and held captive for 6 hours.

There is no exclusion in this bill for small farmers or homesteaders or even the family garden.  There is no exclusion for grass fed beef.  If you have a herd of goats or a few pigs and you raise them organically without commercial feeds and medications, you might find them confiscated and yourself in a whole lot of trouble for animal cruelty.

Because we plan to have a garden to feed ourselves and our extended family, we will certainly be considered a food production facility.  If you have a few fruit trees and give the excess fruit to your neighbors, you would be a food production facility.  If you have cows or goats or pigs, you would be one as well.

I had hopes of selling excess vegetables at the farmer’s market.  Will selling fresh fruit and vegetables now have to move to the black market?  Will you be able to go to a farmer’s market and buy anything?  Will you be able to buy your neighbor’s fresh eggs?

This bill is currently in the Agriculture committee.  If you have concerns about it, please call or write the representatives on the Ag committee.  Let them know what your concerns are and that you oppose this bill as it is written.

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Tags: Farm Animals · Gardening

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