Food Safety Bill Passes - or Does It?


Liberty Matters News Release

On Tuesday, November 30th, the Senate passed S 510 73-25 with the Tester-Hagan amendment. 

However, it was discovered on Thursday that it contained taxing authority in Section 107, which is unconstitutional because all revenue-generating bills must originate in the House of Representatives not the Senate.   It was determined to cost $1.4 billion to implement this bill.

Since the Senate has passed S 510 with this provision, the House can either send the bill back to the Senate to remove the provision or pass the companion bill, HR 2749.  Either way, this opens the door for changes to be made to the bill and increases the chances that the bill dies.  It all depends on the majority party and how they decide to handle this issue.  Odds are, they will figure out a way to either combine the two and substitute HR 2749 with S 510, effectively claiming the revenue part of the bill came from the House and send it back to the Senate for an up or down vote or, they will find another devious way to pass their bill.

Makes you wonder why this wasn’t “discovered” before the Senate passed the bill.  Maybe this is like the House where they have to pass the bill first to know what’s in it.

Regardless of the outcome of the bill, the Tester-Hagan amendment exempted producers grossing under $500,000 (adjusted for inflation) and selling more than half of their products directly to “qualified end users” from the HACCP-type requirements and the produce safety standards.

HACCP stands for Hazardous Analysis Critical Control Point and is a preventative approach used in the food industry to identify potential food safety hazards and reduce or eliminate the risks.  “Qualified end users” means individual consumers (with no geographic limitation), or restaurants and retail food establishments that are either located in the same state or within 275 miles of the producer. 

The Tester-Hagan amendment, although somewhat confusing, effectively carves out small-scale producers who are selling in-state or to local foodsheds from two of the most burdensome provisions of the bill.  There is still concern about how the Food and Drug Administration will exercise its new powers granted in the bill.  But, the amendment provides “critical protections for producers who sell at farmers’ markets, through CSAs, and at local co-ops and groceries,” according to Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance that fought for the Tester-Hagan Amendment and succeeded.

HR 2749, discussed above, passed the House last summer and procedure rules may now kill both of them.  Prior to the “discovery,” the House leadership had agreed to vote on S 510 and pass it without any amendments and send it to the President for his signature.  But, as they say in politics; “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.”

Back Up Resources:
One More Time a Hearty Few Hold Off Big Government "Maximus" by Fred Kelly Grant
Summary of Tester Agreement