May 22, 2013

Crapo, Risch, Benishek Work To Protect Farmers With SCRAP Act

Bicameral legislation would defund burdensome new farm rules

Washington, D.C. - In an effort to prevent potentially devastating regulatory burdens from being placed on U.S. farmers, Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Congressman Dr. Dan Benishek (R-Michigan) today introduced the SCRAP Act, or Stopping Costly Regulations Against Produce, in the U.S. House and Senate.  This legislation would defund the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) proposed fresh produce rule that will negatively impact farmers throughout the country. 

"The FDA is joining a long list of federal agencies pushing costly regulations on Idaho farmers," said Crapo.  "Presently, the majority of produce grown in the United States is designated as low risk.  However, FDA's assertion that even minimum risk commodities should be subject to the same rules based on evidence that has not materialized is particularly concerning.  FDA should focus its efforts on proven risks, not impose costly regulatory burdens on producers based on hypothetical evidence.  Such action will have a major impact on Idaho's agriculture community by driving up costs on small and mid-sized farmers, leading to significant drops in food production and higher prices."

"It is unfortunate that the FDA is working to find a solution to a problem that they themselves have created.  This proposed rule will create needless additional burden and costs at a time when we should do more to assist the agricultural industry in keeping our food supply safe and affordable for all Americans," said Risch.

"These new regulations are just another example of Washington bureaucrats hurting families and farmers here in Northern Michigan.   Once again, these guys in the federal government are thinking up new rules that make life harder and hurt the economy.  I'm all for having a safe and protected food supply in this country, but we need to do it in a reasonable way that doesn't hurt our farmers and jack up the price of our food," said Dr. Benishek, a general surgeon from Iron River and Michigan's only member of the House Committee on Agriculture.  "Our farmers work hard every day to deliver quality products to our table.  The last thing they need is federal bureaucrats making their jobs more expensive and more complicated.  We need to get the FDA to use some more common sense and listen to our farmers, instead of just passing tons of new costly regulations."

On January 4, 2013, the FDA announced a proposed rule for growing, harvesting, packing and holding fresh produce on domestic and foreign farms.  The proposed rule was issued pursuant to the Food Safety Modernization Act, which Congress passed in December 2010.  It would require weekly testing of all agricultural water at a cost of $35 to $40 per week.  If levels of coliform bacteria exceed the FDA's standard, the farmer must cease irrigation until the water is in compliance, running a high risk of ruining a crop.  The FDA estimates that the cost of implementation will cost a producer roughly $5,000 to $30,600 per farm, depending on size, and with a total industry price tag of $460 million.

Crapo and Risch will introduce the SCRAP Act as an amendment to the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013, known as the Farm Bill, which is currently being considered on the Senate floor.  Dr. Benishek will introduce the SCRAP Act as a standalone bill in the House of Representatives.