Washington, D.C. -- In a continued effort to prevent costly new regulatory burdens from being imposed on Idaho farmers, Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch have introduced the SCRAP Act, or Stopping Costly Regulations Against Produce, in the U.S. Senate. This legislation would defund the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed fresh produce rule that will negatively impact farmers throughout the country.
On January 4, 2013, the FDA issued a proposed rule for growing, harvesting, packing and holding fresh produce pursuant to the enactment of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act. Among its requirements, the proposed rule would require routine testing of all agricultural water and additional compliance costs, ranging in the thousands of dollars, for farms growing certain types of produce. While the agency issued an amended rule in 2014 after receiving tremendous pushback and criticism from members of Congress and agriculture producers across the country, FDA estimates that even the revised rule will still impose $386.23 million in annual regulatory costs on domestic farms. Despite that alarming figure, some producer groups have stated that the agency has vastly underestimated that sum by potentially millions of dollars by relying on flawed assumptions.
“While I support ensuring the safety of our food supply, doing so in a way that drives up costs and overlooks the complexities and varying degrees of risk for certain crops and farming practices is the wrong approach,” Crapo said. “Congress clearly delegated too much authority to the FDA when it passed the Food Safety Modernization Act and we are seeing the consequences. I voted against the legislation when it was considered in the Senate over the very real concerns of expanding the reach of federal agencies regulating farming activities. With the issuance of the proposed fresh produce rule, those concerns have materialized and the SCRAP Act intends to prevent this onerous regulation from burdening our food producers.”
“The FDA is working to fix a problem that they have created for themselves,” said Risch. “This proposed rule will add to the many existing burdens and costs already imposed on our farmers. This needless additional burden comes at a time when we can and should do more to assist the agricultural industry in keeping our food supply safe and affordable for all Americans.”
The one sentence bill would simply prohibit federal funds from being used to finalize or implement the fresh produce rule or any similar revised rule. Crapo and Risch originally filed this legislation as an amendment during the 2013 Farm Bill debate, but it did not receive a vote at that time. The Senators are now pursuing the standalone bill in response to continued concerns from agriculture stakeholders in Idaho.