Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Opinion

November 4, 2013

CONFER: Food Safety Modernization Act threatens enterprise

'Food Safety' act: Proof of government run amok

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Scared yet? Consider the act’s police state provision. If the FDA discovers contamination, it is empowered to suppress an outbreak. The FDA would have the ability to quarantine an entire geographic region and prevent the movement of produce in and out of it.

If one farm in a given town was shown to provide tainted foods, all other farms in that town would need to cease operations while the government’s investigation takes place. If a shutdown happens during that small and crucial window of time when crops need to be harvested or food producers need to be supplied, the farmers will lose out on their livelihood.

To the farmer, the act amounts to a massive loss of rights — a sort of Patriot Act for agriculture. It looks at what they do with a fine-toothed comb and demands that they conform to a set of practices laid out by an oppressive federal agency.

To the consumer, the act means higher prices. The new rules and regulations will add to the cost of doing business. Don’t forget, the government has already forced food prices through the roof in recent years thanks to the ill-advised pursuit of ethanol, which caused the cost of corn, corn products and everything that eats corn (chicken, swine, and cattle) to go up.

The act will also limit consumers’ choices. Compliance is made easier for corporate giants, owing to cost, resource, and personnel issues, so many smaller family farms may be forced to sell out to them or limit greatly what the FDA considers “high risk” foodstuffs — which include perfectly safe things such as raw milk and organic foods, constant targets of federal ire and military-style raids.

The Food Safety Modernization Act is just another in a long line of attacks on free markets and free people. It’s now the law, even though the federal government has no constitutional jurisdiction over farms and intrastate trade, but there’s still a chance to stop some of its most dangerous aspects from coming into being.

The FDA’s “science-based standards for growing, harvesting, packing and holding produce on domestic and foreign farms,” which would define the rules and regulations for all things farming, are available for review on the FDA’s website and can be commented on until Nov. 15.

Bob Confer is a Gasport resident and vice president of Confer Plastics Inc. in North Tonawanda. Email him at bobconfer@juno.com.

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