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SEVERE PENALTIES

Send a personal message to your legislators through our petition system by clicking on “Oppose HR 2749“. 

Talking Point:  HR 2749 creates severe criminal and civil penalties, including prison terms of up to 10 years and/or fines of up to a total of $100,000 for individuals.

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Excerpt from June 15 Post by Pete Kennedy(page references to Pallone’s version–See corresponding Waxman’s version at end):

C.  CRIMINAL & CIVIL PENALTIES

The FSEA creates severe criminal and civil penalties.  Under current law, anyone committing a violation of the FFDCA can be imprisoned for up to three years if the violation was committed “with the intent to defraud or mislead” [21USC 333(a)(2)].  Under the FSEA, anyone who “knowingly violates” certain prohibitions contained in the FFDCA, such as the prohibition against introducing adulterated or misbranded food into interstate commerce [21 USC 331(a)], can be imprisoned for up to ten years [section 134(a)(3)–p. 85].   Note that such actions as failing to register a facility or not conducting a hazard analysis constitutes “misbranding”.  So, an Amish farmer who knowingly refuses to register his facility, or a local baker who knowingly failed to fill out the extensive required paperwork, could be thrown in jail.

The bill also provides fines of up to a total of $100,000 for individuals; and a corporation or other entity can be fined up to a total of $7.5 million.  Each day during which a violation continues shall be considered a separate offense [section 135a–pp. 85-86].  These fines can be imposed for any prohibited act, which would include violations of the growing standards or paperwork requirements.  In contrast, under current law, civil fines are half as high and only levied if someone has introduced or delivered for introduction into interstate commerce adulterated food. [21 USC 333(f)(2)(A)]

While higher penalties may be necessary to deter industrial food companies from repeated dangerous violations, the agency has a track record of pursuing small farmers and producers; these penalties could be imposed to ruin people for actions that pose no threat to human health.

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Waxman’s version (June 17)

* * Pallone section 134(a)(3)-p. 85 = Waxman p. 100 * *

SEC. 134. CRIMINAL PENALTIES.

Section 303(a) (21 U.S.C. 333) is amended—

       (1) in paragraph (1), by striking ‘‘Any’’ and inserting ‘‘Except as provided in paragraph (2) or (3), any’’; and

       (2) by adding at the end the following:

     ‘‘(3) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), any person who knowingly violates paragraph (a), (b), (c), (k), or (v) of section 301 with respect to any food that is misbranded or adulterated shall be imprisoned for not more than 10 years or fined in accordance with title 18, United States Code, or both.’’.

* * Pallone section 135a-pp. 85-86 = Waxman pp. 100-101 [words added in (i), (ii), (B),(C)] * *

SEC. 135. CIVIL PENALTIES FOR VIOLATIONS RELATING TO FOOD.

 (a) IN GENERAL.—Paragraph (2) of section 303(f) (21 U.S.C. 331 et seq.) is amended to read as follows:

    ‘‘(2)(A) Any person who violates a provision of section 301 relating to food shall be subject to a civil penalty for each such violation of not more than—

            ‘‘(i) $20,000 in the case of an individual, not to exceed $50,000 in a single proceeding; and

            ‘‘(ii) $250,000 in the case of any other person, not to exceed $1,000,000 in a single proceeding.

     ‘‘(B) Any person who knowingly violates a provision of section 301 relating to food shall be subject to a civil penalty for each such violation of not more than—

            ‘‘(i) $50,000 in the case of an individual, not to exceed $100,000 in a single proceeding; and

           ‘‘(ii) $500,000 in the case of any other person, not to exceed $7,500,000 in a single proceeding.

     ‘‘(C) Each violation described in subparagraph (A) or (B) and each day during which the violation continues shall be considered to be a separate offense.’’.

The “Oppose HR 2749” petition is posted at https://ftcldf.org/petitions/pnum993.php

Information provided courtesy Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (www.farmtoconsumer.org)

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