Thursday, January 20, 2011

Food Safety Bill is Finally Passed...So What Does it mean for Small Farmers?

The  excerpt below is from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition blog. It does a great job of summing up the (as of yet unfunded) s510 Food Safety Modernization Act which was signed into law by President Obama in early January.

On December 21, 2010, the House of Representatives voted 215-144 to pass the Senate version of the Food Safety Modernization Act, with the Tester-Hagan amendment protecting small farms intact. This final vote by the House ends weeks of procedural wrangling, and sends the bill to the President’s desk for enactment.

As we reported in a previous blog post, the food safety bill hit a roadblock after passing the Senate in late November because a provision requiring the collection of user fees violated the Constitutional mandate that all revenue-generating measures must originate in the House. House leaders then attached the bill as an amendment to two separate spending bills, neither of which were able to gain sufficient support.

Then, on Sunday, December 19, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) circumvented the original technical mistake by attaching the bill to a House-originated measure (HR 2751) authorizing a cash-for-clunkers program – a “shell bill” with bipartisan support. The Senate approved this shell bill by voice vote. The final bill passed today by the House mirrors the bill passed three weeks ago by the Senate.

It includes six NSAC-supported amendments championed by:

* Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) to give very small farms and food processing facilities as well as direct-market farms who sell locally the option of complying with state regulation or with modified, scale-appropriate federal regulation.

* Senator Sanders (I-VT) providing FDA authority to either exempt farms engaged in low or no risk processing or co-mingling activities from new regulatory requirements or to modify particular regulatory requirements for such farming operations.

For the rest of the blog post and to read the other amendments, visit NSAC.


  1. RE: Tester-Hagan language in HR.2751 signed into law 1/5/11 (no longer S/510)

    FSMA is dangerous to inter-state commerce due to the 275 mile radius clause (which was reduced from 400 mile radius, BTW.) I also see it as purposefully limiting the prosperity, growth and wealth of small farms due to its $500K "exemption." Thoughts?

  2. Yes I think so too Kristin. It's already hard for small farms to make produce and compete in the market along with those big names. Although the bill is for majority of customers and their safety, I hope it can still be revise or something.