Are you a "Food Production Facility"?

Our 2007 Roma tomato harvest

In the United States, a new piece of legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives that probably you either haven't heard of or don't think it applies to you. It is H.R. 875: Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009. For the most part, it is an okay piece of legislation that is intended to update an antiquated set of Food and Drug Administration laws that are over 70 years old. One of the antiquated elements of our current FDA law kind of stunned me. Congress found that:
"...the Food and Drug Administration, an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, has regulatory jurisdiction over the safety and labeling of 80 percent of the American food supply, encompassing all foods except meat, poultry, and egg products, as well as drugs, medical devices, and biologics..."
Okay... whoa... "except meat, poultry, and egg products?" Yeah, there needs to be some updating here if that stuff currently truly isn't under the FDA's regulatory jurisdiction for safety and labeling (which I thought it was).

However, there is one potentially major flaw in the current definition language of the bill that is disconcerting to me and others. When the bill defines the term "food production facility" and applies lots of regulation to it (including the requirement of many paper trails in case a health emergency needs to be tracked) this is what the definition states:
"FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITY- The term ‘food production facility’ means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation."
There's no further clarification than that--no acreage or headcount requirement... no income requirement... nothing more than the text above.

Our 2008 Santa Rosa plum harvest

So how many of you could possibly fall into this definition of "food production facility"?

With my 5 citrus trees, olive tree, apple tree, plum tree, vegetable garden, and future table grape vines, do I fall into that definition?

If someone sells their produce or baked goods at a local farmer's market or bake sale does the definition encompass them?

And what if I donate my overage of produce to a local food bank (as some people have done)? Does that then categorize me as a "food production facility"?

I gotta wonder if this affects urban community gardens or gardens like the Slow Food Nation garden grown outside San Francisco's City Hall?

Lots of potential implications and questions are now making me stop and think. Remember that C&C Music Factory hip hop hit from the 1990's "Things That Make You Go Hmm..."? That's the song playing in my head right now.

Any suggestions or insights?

Slow Food Nation '08 Garden
San Francisco City Hall

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  1. I don't know either. I'm in the process of planting my vegetable garden: tomatoes, peppers, and squash. While I don't have a farm or ranch, just my own vegetable garden, the language is vague enough to make me wonder, too! I LOVE to go to farmer's I am wondering what will become of them! Sometimes our lawmakers are complete IDIOTS! (most of the time!)

  2. You have made me stop and think. Keep us posted on this. I hope they get the wording fixed.

  3. My head is spinning right now after reading this blog. I really have no idea.... but I love your photos! The sunflowers in San Fran are wonderful and the roma are making me super jealous! I can't wait to produce my own fruit this year.

    Happy Spring

  4. I gave away five grocery bags full of lettuce, collards and parsley this week. Are they going to come get me?

  5. Cindy,

    This blew my mind tonight while reading about it on another blog. Jan at:
    She listed a petition and more information. It is time we make our voices heard in DC.
    Thanks for spreading the word, dear friend.

  6. I read about this on Jan's blog too. She claims it will affect even the backyard gardener. However, I can't imagine the government would have the means to enforce it to that degree. Scary, though! Really scary!

  7. I hope they have a re-think like they did with toy manufacturers when it effected little people like Etsy makers.

  8. I am going Hmmmm right along with you. You raised an interesting question. ~Alasandra

  9. It would be so nice if the government would just use nice simple language so we all knew what they meant and knew what we needed to do to be in compliance ... or what we needed to do to kick some carcasses out of office ... :)

  10. I've heard of this and am wondering what will be happening. Any information you find, please pass it on!

  11. That's interesting...Geez...what's next?


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