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01/05/2011 09:11 AM     print story email story  

Food Safety Bill Includes Important Exemptions for Local Farmers

SustainableBusiness.com News

The Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) signed into law Tuesday by President Obama includes provisions that protect small and local food producers and processors.

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) applauded the passage the bill, which also gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a greater ability to safeguard our nation’s food system, the group said. The new law gives the FDA the authority to order mandatory food recalls as well as require food facilities to put food safety plans in place. 

The bill also includes provisions introduced by Senators Tester and Hagan that protect small and local food producers and processors.

On November 18, Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), the only organic farmer in Congress, reached an agreement with the authors of S. 510 to include a new, compromise version of the Tester-Hagan amendment in the Senate food safety bill. The amendment exempts small farmers and processors who sell directly to consumers and end users from FDA regulation due to their direct relationship with their customers that ensures quality, safety, transparency and accountability. For these small farmers and processors, the costs of complying with all the new federal requirements would be burdensome and add little to food safety. They still must meet all state and local food safety requirements.

The amendment includes the following requirements for exemption:

  1. Producers must have annual gross sales less than $500,000. This includes all subsidiaries and affiliates of a business, so it carefully prevents any larger businesses from using this as a loophole.
  2. Producers must sell more than half their products directly to consumers (including at farmers markets) or to local restaurants and retailers that in turn sell directly to consumers. The definition of “qualified end user” ensures that the producer is not selling into national chains or into long supply chains.
  3. FDA has authority to withdraw an exemption from a farm or facility associated with a foodborne illness outbreak.
  4. The distance from a facility or farm that is eligible to be a “qualified end-user” was reduced to 275 miles.

“Our support for the bill recognizes that several lamentable concessions in the main bill were made to appease the industry and put a stop to delaying tactics preventing a vote on the bill.” said Jaydee Hanson, Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Food Safety. “These included removing important provisions that would have allowed FDA to bring criminal charges against producers who knowingly ship tainted food to consumers as well as reducing the frequency of FDA inspections to once every five years.”

Nonetheless, passing the food safety legislation was a "significant victory for consumers," according to Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director for the Center for Food Safety. “This legislation will finally give FDA the long awaited mandatory recall authority it needs to ensure that the same companies who sicken the public do not dictate the recall of their products,” Kimbrell said.

Website: www.centerforfoodsafety.org



Reader Comments (4)

Author:
KARENZSTUFF

Date Posted:
01/25/11 04:32 AM

how does this Bill effect small gardens? Thank you In Advance, Karen

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Author:
Daniel

Date Posted:
03/11/11 11:01 PM

It's pretty obvious it doesn't effect small gardens. This bill is aimed at companies (larger ones at that), not private citizens. I saw this bill used in a few propaganda videos on youtube to make it look like the government was using this bill to make sure no one could grow food, but had to buy it. It's simply nonsense. Karen, good idea to do some research and ask questions, perhaps you saw one of these videos making this claim?

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Author:
MK

Date Posted:
03/31/11 07:33 PM

Small gardens would have an annual total income of less than $500,000 and thus would be exempt from the bill.

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Author:
Dredden

Date Posted:
12/17/12 09:08 PM

I'm glad the tester's amendment went through but it is not nearly as big a win as you think. The amendment only exempts up to $500,000 GROSS SALES. It is very easy for a very small family farm selling direct to consumers and local retailers to exceed that in annual sales yet they may only be clearing a profit of $50,000. Now they will come under onerous FDA regulations that may crush them. The result is a great many small farms will not hire or expand because why bother getting just a little bigger if that means you're going to have to deal with more expensive government regulations?! It is just not worth it.

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