Washington, DC – You may recall back in 2010 we worked to stop passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The bill was an effort by Congress to appease angry consumers fed up with a spate of incidents of food contamination (like that year’s salmonella outbreak and recall of eggs) resulting from the unhealthy livestock farming practices of industrial suppliers.
We were concerned that the bill would apply the regulations explicitly crafted to regulate large industrial facilities (factory farms and industrial agriculture and manufacturers) to small businesses as well (family farmers, organic growers, farmer’s markets, food artisans and local suppliers). The financial impact of complying with the burdensome reporting requirements could have put such small suppliers out of business.
That’s why we fought so hard for the Tester-Hagan amendment. It authorized more modest reporting requirements for small providers and exempted them from the extensive ones required of larger companies. This exemption is essential to the continued vitality of the local foods movement.
FDA “Protectin?g” the Public from Locally Grown, High Quality Food: An Interview with Deborah Stockton
Passage of this bill won’t change much unless the bill is funded. In this economic environment, it will be difficult to get the $1.4 billion required to implement this bill without some revenue generator, which this bill does not include. There has already been talk from Republicans in the House that they will not fund the bill. The government is currently under a continuing resolution (CR) which expires on March 4. So one of the first challenges for the new Congress is how they handle the Fiscal Year 2011 budget. Therefore, it is unlikely that anyone will get an increase in this environment. Some lobbying from states is also anticipated since they’ll be able to seek a variance from the produce safety standards as long as they can show that they have procedures in place to reach the same goals.
Send your letter now, and urge your Senators to Save Safe Food – Stop S. 510!
by Helena Bottemiller via www.foodsafetynews.com
Jan 03, 2010
Part one of a three part discussion with Harry Hamil, founder of North Carolina’s Black Mountain Farmers Market, on how he would change the Senate food safety bill to lessen the impact on small and sustainable agriculture
Harry Hamil has worked to revive local, healthy food for people in western North Carolina since 1995. He and his wife, Elaine, work full time growing, distributing and retailing locally grown food at the Black Mountain Farmers Market, a year-round market the couple founded in 2003.
Since the passage of the House Food Safety Enhancement Act (H.R. 2749) last July, Hamil–who has a rare affinity for detail and a keen understanding of the policy making process–has focused full time on the pending FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510) in the Senate, advocating for changes that would help lessen what he foresees as a detriment to the burgeoning small and sustainable agriculture movement.
Food Safety News had a chance to discuss, in detail, some changes Hamil would like to see made to the food safety bill before it clears the Senate.
Part I: Regulation should be appropriately scaled
Hamil, like many small and sustainable agriculture advocates, sees S.510, as it’s currently written, as “one-size-fits-all” regulation with the potential to force small growers and producers out of the business.
“They’re calling for increased regulation because of globalization,” says Hamil. “We aren’t globalizing, folks. We’re producing it locally–local health food for local people. The level of regulation that applies to us clearly is different.” Hamil would like to see the regulations in the bill tiered so that they are more appropriately scaled.
Hamil points to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) new egg rule, finalized last summer, to help minimize Salmonella Enteritidis, as an example of of the kind of tiered regulation that could be applied to the rest of the food industry.
“The egg rule says very clearly that the rule shall apply to egg producers with greater than 3,000 layers,” says Hamil, who explains that the rule is tiered because the smaller producers, of which there are few, just don’t have the same impact. “Federal regulation needs to focus on those food production enterprises with the potential to distribute products to large numbers of people rather than those distributing to small numbers of customers.”