The Kentucky Department for Public Health has approved huge fee increases for small-scale food manufacturers!
Under the old regulations, the permit fee for food manufacturing was based on the square footage of the facility. Small operations paid $120 year for a food manufacturing permit. The permit fees increased with the size of the operation, with the largest manufacturers paying $600 per year.
The new fee structure is instead based on the agency’s assessment of risk, which is based on the product made rather than size. A “low risk” food manufacturer will be assessed a $750 fee, while a “high risk” one will have to pay $2,400.
While everyone will see some sort of fee increase, small producers will be hit the worst. A small food manufacturer will see their fees increase anywhere from $630 to $2,280 per year – increases of 625% to 2,000%!
The regulation also creates a new requirement that cosmetic manufacturers produce their products in a commercial kitchen and imposes a $300 annual permit fee on them (where before there was none).
The agency’s justification for the permit fee hike is the cost of doing the inspections. But its numbers are not credible. The agency claims it costs approximately $150 per hour to cover an inspector’s salary and benefits (retirement, payroll taxes, health insurance, and life insurance) — which would come to an annual expense of $300,000 per inspector. If accurate, the agency needs to focus on cutting its costs, not gouging small businesses!
Moreover, the new fees ignore the size of an operation, which clearly impacts how long it takes to do an inspection. The agency estimates that it will take 55 hours to inspect a business that makes ready-to-eat time/temperature-controlled foods. This category covers massive, multi-million-dollar facilities, as well as a small baker that makes cheesecakes. The assumption that it will take 55 hours to inspect the small baker is ridiculous. Yet that small baker and the huge corporate facility will both pay $2,400 in annual fees under the proposed rule.
TAKE ACTION #1:
The agency is accepting public comments through August 31, 2020:
MAIL: Donna Little, Deputy Executive Director, Office of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, 275 East Main Street 5 W-A, Frankfurt, KY 40621
The agency is also holding a public meeting on August 24, 2020, to take comments in person.
WHERE: Suites A&B, Health Services Building, First Floor, 275 East Main Street, Frankfort, KY 40621
WHAT: Email the agency to tell them you plan to attend, and then plan what you’ll say. While the notice doesn’t mention a time limit, public comments at these sorts of hearings are often limited to 3 minutes, so focus on 2-3 key points you want to make.
TAKE ACTION #2:
Call and email your Kentucky State Representative and Senator and urge them to step in. These fee increases would be inappropriate at any time – but they’re outrageous during an economic crisis when small businesses are going under in record numbers, unemployment is at an all time high, and people need more access to food!
You can look up who represents you at this link, click on the link for their bio page, and you can find both their phone number and their email address: https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/findyourlegislator/findyourlegislator.html
Read the regulation at https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/law/kar/902/045/180reg.pdf