H.R. 2749, the Food Safety Enhancement Act, addresses the programs and authority of
the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). FDA currently has authority over processed
foods, fruits and vegetables, and fish, while USDA has authority over meat and poultry.
H.R. 2749 proposes to expand FDA’s role in agriculture, particularly through creating
new food safety standards, a new traceability program, and a mandatory processing
Some key concerns with HR 2749 include:
1. Fees: Within this bill there is a mandatory $500 per year fee for processing
facilities (with a $175,000 cap for companies with numerous plants – a cap that
benefits large processors). This fee will help pay for FDA inspections of
processing plants, but the bill’s requirement of inspections every 6-12 months for
high-risk food is not nearly frequent enough for the millions of pounds of food
being inspected. A sliding-scale fee would be more appropriate and more
affordable for the smaller operations.
2. Definition of a “food facility”: Another concern within the bill is the definition
used for a “food facility”. Several advocacy organizations are currently working
very hard to get a definition that will work for local/regional food system players.
3. The third major concern is the proposed traceability program. This new
traceability program is intended to allow the FDA to track back any food item to
its original source within two days. H.R. 2749 exempts farmers or fishermen who
sell their products directly to the consumer, a restaurant, or a grocery store from
the traceability program and places less burdensome recordkeeping on these
producers and buyers. It would be desirable to exempt all product that is “farm
and source verified” from small and medium-size farms, but in the very least to
exempt those farms involved in direct sales or marketing of on farm processed
Congressional Action on HR 2749:
changes on behalf of Sustainable Ag and Family Farmers that quieted some
fears of FDA encroachment onto the farm.
o Further clarification was provided for the meaning of a “Food
o Also some specific exemptions for “direct selling” were provided.
• However, these changes do not do enough for family farmers and sustainable
• HR 2749 was brought to the floor on Wednesday, 7/29/09 under suspension
of the rules, which prohibited amendments and floor debate, but required a
two‐thirds majority vote to pass. The bill failed to pass.
• As a result, the Rules Committee determined the bill would be brought to the
floor again on Thursday, 7/30/09, requiring only a simple majority to pass.
introduced on the floor, but Representative Farr and Representative
Blumenauer gave a colloquy, so their objections to the bill were added to the
formal record. These objections included concerns about:
– the lack of a plan for coherence with the USDA National Organic Program
– the need for electronic records
– the lack of recognition of current safe food practices through
conservation efforts the lack of targeted efforts to focus on high‐risk problems.
– Additionally, on the floor of the House, Rep. Dingell chided Sustainable
– Agriculture and Family Farm Advocates somewhat for our concerns, but
promised that these concerns would be worked out in the conference and
The bill was read twice and referred to the Senate Committee on Health,
Education, Labor and Pensions. It is currently on the regular calendar in the
a conference committee will be required to resolve the differences between the two
versions of the food safety bills.
waiting on the Senate Calendar. There seems to be no urgency to get to this
issue on the Senate side, and no progress is likely until after the health care
debate ends (as the HELP committee is also involved in Health Reform).
for other potential issues. This work will begin among advocate groups, such
as NSAC and NOC, in September. They are currently working on a strategy for
getting their comments into the bill drafting process before it is “marked‐up”
by the committee.
the above‐mentioned groups, but at this time we are not actively advocating for the
issue. We will send out action alerts as necessary.