Changes Requested in Senate Food Safety Bill

Changes Requested in Senate Food Safety Bill

Group says new legislation would hurt smaller producers.

A host of agricultural related organizations are part of an effort to urge the Senate to make important amendments to its food safety bill so that it will improve food safety while minimizing unnecessary burdens to small-scale, local food producers. In a letter, the 87 organizations state in part that all of the well-publicized incidents of contamination in recent years, whether in spinach, peppers, or peanuts, occurred in industrialized food supply chains that span national and even international boundaries. The food safety problems in this system can and should be addressed without harming the local food systems that provide an alternative for consumers.

In their letter, the groups stated that the growing trend toward healthy, fresh, locally sourced vegetables, fruit, dairy, and value-added products improves food safety by providing the opportunity for consumers to know their farmers and processors, to choose products on the basis of that relationship, and to readily trace any problems should they occur. In addition, small-scale food producers are already regulated by local and state authorities, and the potential risk their products pose is inherently limited by their size. For these farmers and processors, new federal requirements are unnecessary and would simply harm both the food producers and their consumers.

The Senate is expected to vote soon on a sweeping overhaul of the nation's food safety laws. According to
R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard, Senate Bill 510 actually will strengthen the forces that have led to the consolidation of our food supply in the hands of a few industrial food producers, while harming small producers who give consumers the choice to buy fresh, healthy and local foods.

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