?letterdate ?I sent this letter to our Representative about the food safety bills in the house. I hope you all will take the time to write to your Representative!
                Cindy Dutcher
----- Original Message ----- 
From: Dutcher Farms 
To: Congressman Bart Stupak 
Sent: Sunday, April 05, 2009 12:50 PM
Subject: Re: From the Office of Congressman Bart Stupak

Dear Rep. Stupak,
   As a farmer and food processor, I am aware of the current regulations regarding food safety. There is plenty of regulatory oversight written into both the FDA and USDA food laws as well as the individual state laws, I am quite familiar with both and have 40 years of experience in the food business from the farm gate to the plate. The need for tracking is covered by HACCP, which was adopted by the USDA, FDA, and the food industry a decade ago, and there is plenty of regulation to cover closing a plant that is putting putrid and filthy food into the food chain. Food safety can be accomplished easily by having FDA and USDA enforce the current regulations, after all the Canadians did not have a problem with turning the peanuts away because they were "putrid", and I am sure that those same peanuts were inspected here and allowed to sicken and kill people.
  The problem that needs to be addressed is the revolving door policy at FDA and USDA that has caused both bureaucracies to become corrupt and completely inneffective. The practice of allowing industry employees to be hired by the regulatory agencies (and often having a financial interest or returning to those companies after working for the government) makes food and drug safety impossible. When a regulator has a vested interest in a company that they are responsible for regulating, the conflict of interest makes it much easier for the regulator to turn a blind eye to problems. As a small processor, it has been made quite clear that I am far more inspected than bigger plants, even though I sell only to folks in my community and have a moral obligation to them to produce a clean and wholesome product, after all the consumers who purchase food I process are my neighbors and friends. I do not have a staff or a legal team, so I am much more vulnerable to harassment from inspectors than a large company. Even if small business is exempt from fees, the burden and expense of registry when I am already registered with several other agencies is redundant. Creating another huge layer of regulation will only cause more expense and paperwork for small businesses, like my own, and it has not been small companies that have been causing these huge food borne illness outbreaks. I resent the idea of having to register my farm and my processing facility with yet another government agency, and will consider shutting the doors rather than be buried in another bureaucracy. This legislation will do nothing to resolve the problem with food safety.
                      Cindy Dutcher, Dutcher Farm
                       25525 S. Angora Rd.
                       Goetzville, MI 49736
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Congressman Bart Stupak 
  To: [log in to unmask] 
  Sent: Friday, April 03, 2009 10:46 AM
  Subject: From the Office of Congressman Bart Stupak

  April 3, 2009

  Mr. and Mrs. John Dutcher

  25525 South Angora Road

  Goetzville, Michigan 49736

  Dear Mr. and Mrs. Dutcher:

  Thank you for contacting me regarding H.R. 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act.  I appreciated hearing from you on this issue.

  On February 4, 2009, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro introduced H.R. 875, the Food Safety Modernization Act.   H.R. 875 would establish a Food Safety Administration headed by an expert in food safety within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  By separating food safety regulation from drug and device approvals, the bill would allow food safety experts and researchers to focus on food safety. H.R. 875 would also provide the Food Safety Administration with the regulatory tools to access important records, recall products, and penalize companies for knowingly selling tainted products.

  The Food Safety Modernization Act would address current weaknesses in the system by requiring traceability, requiring food companies to take preventive measures, mandating regular inspections, and demanding that imported food meet our safety standards.  

  Recent cases of salmonella in peanut butter, botulism in baby food, and e.coli in spinach are all signs of a disturbing trend. However, this is not merely a health issue; it is an issue of national security. Imported food could be tainted with biological or chemical agents before entering the United States or toxins could be introduced at a domestic food processing plant. By the time anyone begins to feel the effects of these toxins, this food could have reached thousands of people across the country, resulting in serious illness and even death. 

  While the number of cases of food borne illness has more than doubled in the last five years, the past Administration drastically reduced the resources for addressing food safety issues. The budget for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition has been cut from $48 million to $25 million in just three years. Also, annual inspections of domestic food processing plants dropped 25 percent since 2005.

  On January 28, 2009, I introduced the Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act of 2009 along with Congressman John Dingell and Congressman Frank Pallone This legislation is a critical step toward equipping the FDA with the regulations and needed to safeguard Americans in the global marketplace for food, drugs, devices, and cosmetics.

  The Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act would guarantee FDA the funding to significantly increase inspections of food facilities and improve outdated information systems.  The legislation requires food producers to have preventive food safety plans and subject the plans to FDA inspection, requires food imports to meet all US standards, closes the loopholes in FDA's ability to trace the source of contaminated products, and imposes stiff penalties on companies that violate safety standards.

  Whether we are talking about the Food Safety Modernization Act or my legislation, Congress is not intending to stop individuals from growing food for their own consumption.  In addition, my legislation includes specific language that exempts small businesses from paying the registration fee.

  It is my hope that Congress will act quickly on food safety legislation. Congress faces an ambitious agenda in the coming months, but the more than 500 illnesses and nine deaths linked to the current peanut butter salmonella outbreak underscore the importance of wasting no time in enacting this important legislation. 

  Again, thank you for contacting me. Please do not hesitate to contact me again regarding issues of importance to you.


  Member of Congress

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