Utah state Rep. Bill Wright is proposing a bill that would exempt his state from federal food regulations, including the recently enacted food safety bill, if the food is not sold across state lines.
“Within the state, it’s state’s rights. We already have regulations over those items,” Wright told the Salt Lake Tribune in an interview. “We function well now. We don’t think they have a right or authority to regulate those items that are not interstate commerce, as long as they’re grown within the state, packaged in the state and remain in the state.”
The historic FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, signed by President Obama in January, contains exemptions for small farms, under certain conditions, to help reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses. The new law does not apply to farms and very small businesses that sell most of their food directly to consumers, restaurants, or grocery stores within the same state, or within 275 miles, and have less than $500,000 in annual sales.
The exemption, known as the ‘Tester Amendment,’ after Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), does allow the FDA to withdraw the exemption if food from an exempt farm or facility is associated with a foodborne illness outbreak.
As the Tribune noted, Wright’s bill is modeled after a Montana gun law that Utah adopted last year, which “built on the premise that if the product doesn’t cross state borders, the federal government’s authority to regulate interstate commerce shouldn’t apply and there is no constitutional right to federal regulation.”