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Letter to Senators Debbie Stabenow and Thad Cochran and Representatives Frank Lucas and Collin Peterson - Food Safety

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Leading Congressional food safety advocates today urged Farm Bill conferees not to impede food safety and to exclude from the final bill a provision in the House version that would severely slow down implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). All of the requirements contained in the provision are already a part of the rule-making process.

"Section 12321 would prevent the Food and Drug Administration from enforcing "any' regulations under FSMA until the agency publishes in the Federal Register a scientific analysis and an economic analysis on FSMA's impact on a variety of kinds of farms and food processors," wrote Representatives Rosa DeLauro, Henry Waxman, John Dingell, Frank Pallone, Diana DeGette, Louise Slaughter and Nita Lowey. "This section apparently is intended to address concerns raised with regard to proposed rules to enhance produce safety. However, those concerns should be addressed, and are already being addressed, through the notice and comment rulemaking process, not through legislation that holds hostage the entire Food Safety Modernization Act."

DeLauro--a former Chair of the subcommittee responsible for funding the Agriculture Department, and Food and Drug Administration--spoke out against the provision when the Farm Bill was first debated before the House of Representatives last June. Waxman, Dingell, Pallone and DeGette all hold key positions on the Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees the FDA. Slaughter, the senior Democrat on the House Rules Committee, is a microbiologist by training and advocate for stronger food safety laws. Nita Lowey is the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee

The full letter is as follows:

November 14, 2013

The Honorable Debbie Stabenow The Honorable Thad Cochran

Chairwoman Ranking Member

Senate Agriculture Committee Senate Agriculture Committee

328A Russell Senate Office Building 192 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Frank Lucas The Honorable Collin Peterson

Chairman Ranking Member

House Agriculture Committee House Agriculture Committee

1301 Longworth House Office Building 305 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairmen Stabenow and Lucas and Ranking Members Cochran and Peterson:

We write to urge conferees not to include Section 12321 contained in the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (H.R. 2642) passed by the House in any 2013 Farm Bill conference report. We firmly believe this section would needlessly delay the implementation of critical rules being advanced in accordance with the bipartisan Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to promote and enhance food safety.

Section 12321 would prevent the Food and Drug Administration from enforcing "any" regulations under FSMA until the agency publishes in the Federal Register a scientific analysis and an economic analysis on FSMA's impact on a variety of kinds of farms and food processors. This section apparently is intended to address concerns raised with regard to proposed rules to enhance produce safety. However, those concerns should be addressed, and are already being addressed, through the notice and comment rulemaking process, not through legislation that holds hostage the entire Food Safety Modernization Act.

As Section 12321 prohibits enforcement of "any" regulations promulgated under FSMA, the provision would delay or prevent enforcement of not only the aforementioned rules, but also any other FSMA rules, with severe consequences for consumers. These include pending regulations on the safety of imported foods, laboratory testing standards, and better traceability for high risk foods. Moreover, this section would prevent the use of rules that are already in force and protecting consumers from contaminated food.

We believe that rather than delaying rules under the guise of further study, as Section 12321 does, we should ensure FSMA rules are enacted as quickly as possible. Accordingly, we urge the Farm Bill conference to produce a Farm Bill that promotes sound agricultural and nutrition policies and to remove this provision, which has no place in a Farm Bill and would have a detrimental impact on the health and safety of consumers.

Sincerely,

Rosa DeLauro

Henry Waxman
John Dingell
Frank Pallone
Diana DeGette
Louise Slaughter
Nita Lowey


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