Thanks to everyone who called their Senators encouraging them to pass the amendments protecting small farmers! We will keep you posted next year when the House and Senate have to reconcile their differences.
U.S. Senate passes landmark food safety legislation
Small-scale farms, producers exempt from costly regulations
by Sustainable Food News
Minutes ago, the U.S. Senate voted 73-25 to approve the Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510), which would expand the Food and Drug Administration’s authority to inspect food plants and issue mandatory recalls but protect small farmers and food producers from costly new regulations.
The landmark legislation, which had broad bipartisan support, marks the first time in 70 years that Congress has addressed deficiencies in the nation’s food system. The U.S. House approved a similar bill over a year ago.
Foodborne illnesses kill about 5,000 people each year.
Thanks to an amendment introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and approved by the Senate last week, the bill provides scale-appropriate food safety rules for small farms and mid-sized farms and local processors that sell to restaurants, food co-ops, groceries, wholesalers and at farm stands and farmers markets.
The legislation exempts producers who gross under $500,000 and who sell at least 50 percent directly to consumers or local retailers and restaurants from the new federal HACCP/ HARCP requirements and produce safety standards.
It also defines eligible “local” restaurants and retailers (end-users) as those who are either in-state or within 275 miles of the facility or farm it sources product from.
The legislation also gives FDA authority to withdraw an exemption from a farm or facility that has been associated with a foodborne illness outbreak.
In an email to friends, sustainable food leader and author of the best-selling Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan said with the addition of the Tester Amendment, the legislation “strikes a reasonable balance between the pressing need to more rigorously protect the safety of industrially produced food, as well as imported food, while at the same time assuring that the local food movement not be burdened unduly.”
Pollan also pointed out that the legislation would also exempt small farmers from some current federal laws, including the 2002 terrorism act.
The House and Senate will take up their respective bills in conference once the new Congress settles in next year.