Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) railed on the Senate floor yesterday about Amish farms being raided by FDA authorities, offering an amendment to rein in the “overzealous” agency.
“I’m troubled by images of armed agents raiding Amish farms and preventing them selling milk directly from the cow,” Paul said. “I think we have bigger problems in our country than sending armed FDA agents into peaceful farmers’ land and telling them they can’t sell milk directly from the cow.”
He introduced an amendment to the Food and Drug Administration User Fee Reauthorization bill to curb the Food and Drug Association’s overreach and abuse of power.
“First, it attempts to stop the FDA’s overzealous regulations of vitamins, food and supplements by codifying the First Amendment prohibition on prior restraint,” Paul said. “The First Amendment says you can’t prevent speech, even commercial speech, in advance of the speech. You can’t tell Cheerios that they can’t say there’s a health benefit to their Cheerios. Under our current FDA laws, FDA says if you want to market prune juice, you can’t say that it cures constipation.”
The amendment would also stop the FDA from “censoring claims about curative, mitigative effects of dietary supplements.” Paul said this interfered with consumers’ rights to make informed choices.
Paul’s amendment would also disarm the FDA.
“I’m not against having police, I’m not against the army, the military, the FBI, but I think bureaucrats don’t need to be carrying weapons and I think what we ought to do, is if there is a need for an armed policeman to be there, the FBI who are trained to do this should do it. But I don’t think it’s a good idea to be arming bureaucrats to go on the farm to, with arms, to stop people from selling milk from a cow,” the senator said. “I think we have too many armed federal agencies, and that we need to put an end to this.”
“Today the criminal law is used to punish behavior such as even fishing without a permit, packaging a product incorrectly or shipping something with an improper label,” he added. “Simply said, the federal government’s gone too far.”
Paul’s amendment would also strengthen “the mens rea component of each of the prohibited acts and the FDA acts by including the words ‘knowing’ and ‘willful’ before we address and accuse someone of a crime.”
“This I think would give protection to folks who are guilty of inadvertently guilty of breaking a regulation and would keep from overflowing our jails,” Paul said. “We’ve got plenty of violent criminals without putting people in for honest breaches of regulations.”
The amendment will come up for consideration today, according to the majority leader’s floor schedule.