A bill signed into law by the Governor of Rhode Island will require the state departments to enforce the Federal Food Safety Modernization Act. Rep. Blake Filippi made a strong case that no state agency should enforce this onerous and unconstitutional federal act.

The federal act set to go into effect in 2018 imposes 600 pages of rules and regulations on farmers and food producers in the name of “food safety.” The law expands the powers of the FDA, and places significant responsibilities on farmers and food processors to prevent contamination. It also mandates a $500 yearly fee to fund FDA inspections.

Small farmers and local food producers have generally opposed the bill due to their inability to absorb the burden and cost of compliance, along with the absurd nature of some of the rules. A spokesperson for the Rhode Island Farm Bureau said that it could just about eliminate agriculture in the state. A farmer could be fined for failing to quarantine a field after a deer walks through it and poops. It also requires farmers to keep three years of records on hand-washing training the give to field workers.

Filippi emphatically declared the state of Rhode Island should not use its resources to help enforce the monstrous federal law.

“The point is this is just more federal control over our state. It’s added federal bureaucracy. I don’ think that any state department should be enforcing these federal regulations. If the federal government wants to pass foolish regulations to regulate our farmers, let them spend their own money, and send their own inspectors to the state of Rhode Island to enforce them. They should not be co-opting our state officials to do that work for them, especially with such ridiculous regulations that they’re passing.”

After questioning the constitutionality of the federal act, Filippi punctuated his remarks with a verbal explanation point.

“I think we should just say, ‘You want these regulations, you come here and enforce them. You’re not going to commandeer our state officials!'”

He also gave an excellent summary of the anti-commandeering doctrine.

“We always have the choice as to whether to work with the federal government. Sometimes we should say, ‘No thank you!’ This is one of those times.”

Mike Maharrey

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