farmers market

Dane County Farmers Market

More food safety in the US sounds good, right? Well, depends on who you are. The US Senate is considering a Food Safety Bill S510 that would change the system of food safety in America. One of the major issues with this bill is that all the provisions, restrictions and requirements would apply to small farmers and small food producers (think farmer’s market fruit, veggies, jam, pie, nuts, eggs, etc.). If put into law, this WILL affect your access to some of these foods.

Laws to manage food-borne illnesses such as E.coli and salmonella sound appealing until you think about what causes  them. The majority of offenders in this area are mega farms and huge food producers. Rather than create new regulation to stop many mega farming practices (such as widespread use of antibiotics, gigantic feedlots, slaughterhouse contamination, nitrogen heavy fertilizers, dangerous pesticides, un-natural feed, use of genetically modified seeds) that may contribute to food safety issues, the solution put forth is to apply an already broken system to all farmers and food producers.

For a small family farm, having similar regulations as large food manufacturers will no doubt present an undue hardship. Many farms will have to deal with modifications of their practices/facilities to meet new standards, filling out numerous government forms, establishing required record keeping, and everything that goes along with inspection compliance. In addition, there will be new fees associated with the bill (see Section 107).  The fees and time associated with all these changes (and possible additional personnel resources that may be required), could be extremely costly and will pose a significant threat to the viability of small farmers. At some point, they won’t be able to produce the food that you and I rely on if they can’t make a profit. If small farms go out of business, this in turn may threaten our access to organic, bio-dynamic, and ethically produced local food.

Click here for Ways You Can Take Action! to stop this bill from becoming the law.

Here are two excerpts from a summary of the bill: 

Section 105 -
Sets forth provisions related to produce safety, including to require the Secretary to: (1) establish science-based minimum standards for the safe production and harvesting of those types of fruits and vegetables that are raw agricultural commodities to minimize the risk of serious adverse health consequences or death; and (2) publish updated good agricultural practices and guidance for the safe production and harvesting of specific types of fresh produce.  
 
Section 107 -
Directs the Secretary to assess and collect fees related to: (1) food facility reinspection; (2) food recalls; (3) the voluntary qualified importer program; and (4) importer reinspection. Applies export certification provisions to food.
 
Sources:
GovTrack.us – S. 510 – Summary: FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (GovTrack.us)
Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance – Ways You Can Take Action!