"Too Much Government!" Local Rancher on New Food Bill

By: Jessica Zartler Email
By: Jessica Zartler Email

A battle is brewing over a new bill that would give the FDA more power over food suppliers--including farms and ranches.

Supporters say recent salmonella and E.coli outbreaks prove that it's long overdue but as 11 News Reporter Jessica Zartler explains, small farms and ranches in Grand Junction worry the bill could take money out of their pockets.

Karen Coffman and her husband Larry have been ranchers for more than 25 years selling livestock and beef.

She's worried about the cost of House Bill 2749.

"When you start putting this excess cost and everything than you have to start looking at cutting back on the amount of animals you have," Karen Coffman told 11 News on Wednesday.

She says lawmakers on Capitol Hill should stay out of her business.

"The majority or a lot of people in Washington, D.C. have never been west of the Mississippi to see what it's really like out here."

In HR 2749, the FDA would regulate how crops are raised and harvested, make warrantless searches of business records and create a national food tracing system.

Any facilities that raise animals, harvest crops or hold food will also have to pay $500 a year to register with the FDA.

The bill's sponsor, Democratic Representative John Dingell of Michigan could not be reached for comment by Wednesday night.

Supporters of the food safety initiative say being able to track and regulate food supplies is important, especially in light of recalls and food borne illness outbreaks in tomatoes, spinach, beef and other foods.

The Coffmans say they want their food to be safe too but "one size fits all" legislation isn't the answer and could really hurt smaller food producers.

"They don't need to, pardon my expression, butt into our business. It's just too much government," said Karen Coffman.

And she and her husband's business is all they've known for more than two decades and if new fees and costs from the bill are too much, she worries she may lose that.

We called Representative John Salazar and his spokesman, Eric Wortman, said he was busy with healthcare reform but he had this to say in an email:

"He's looking over the bill and is concerned for the Colorado farmer and rancher and wants to protect them from unnecessary regulations."

He went on to say, "He will make sure congress doesn't do anything that hurts Colorado farmers and ranchers."

House Bill 2749 has already passed in the Health Subcommittee and is headed to the Commerce Committee.

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