Single-party control of our government has created a situation where the normal restraints of common sense and accountability have been entirely lifted from our legislators and they feel free to engage in the most dangerous and destructive possible legislation in the service of special interests whose goals are inimical to the welfare of most Americans and especially of small businesses and vulnerable groups who dare to challenge the dominance of powerful business or issue-oriented lobbies.
This lack of accountability and invulnerability to effective opposition is what makes it possible for a bill like House Resolution 875 to be introduced and even attract the support of almost 40 sponsors. This deceptively named "Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009" creates a special department within the Department of Health and Human Services called the Food Safety Administration, which is specifically tasked with expanding the regulatory role of that agency into the small organic farms, backyard gardens and kitchens of gardeners and entrepreneurs who sell food products at farmers markets, through local stores or even to their neighbors. This is all in the interest of protecting consumers from health risks, but if you read the history of major food contamination cases over recent decades every major case stems from large-scale industrial agriculture, not from small farms, home-canning or other traditional and entrepreneurial food production.
In truth this bill is nothing but an effort to protect the agricultural and food processing giants who control 90% of the food production in the nation from the competition of tiny cottage industries and income supplementing gardeners who may nibble away at a tiny portion of the sales of food and agriculture megacorporations. It is the trust-busting of Teddy Roosevelt and the progressive era turned on its head. It is government protecting corporate monopolists from even the smallest challenge of free enterprise.
Perhaps worst of all, these proposed new regulations are so pervasive that they might very well prohibit you from producing food to feed your own family and they include draconian enforcement measures designed to discourage any attempts at home or small-scale agriculture. In Section 3 of the bill it specifically defines the jurisdiction of this new agency to include any "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," further defined as "any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility or confined animal feeding operation." That means my hydroponic herb garden, my catfish pond, my little chicken pen, the peach trees in my front yard, etc. What's more, the act specifically exempts from these regulations the large agribusinesses already covered under the authority of the Department of Agriculture or the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act, so it is clearly aimed at small and part-time farmers.