The Debate Moves Forward On The Food Safety Modernization Act

Yesterday, the Senate invoked cloture to move forward with debate on S. 510, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. During the debate on the bill, the Senate will consider a provision in the bill that would exempt certain segments of the food industry, including food facilities and farm operations from requirements for basic food safety standards.

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United Fresh Produce Association Senior Vice President of Public Policy Robert Guenther issued the following statement on the bill:

“The fresh produce industry strongly supports the modernization of federal food safety laws and has supported legislation both in the House and Senate for the last several years along these lines. In fact, United Fresh has testified more than a dozen times before congressional committees advocating for this historic reform to move forward.

"Unfortunately, the Senate may undermine this effort by including language in the final bill that would exempt certain sectors of the food industry based on geographic location, size of operation, and to whom they sell their food products. Supporters of this effort have portrayed these exemptions as protecting small businesses, that locally-grown commodities are somehow safer, or that federal government standards are not adequate. Nothing could be further from the truth.

"The fact remains that when a food safety incident occurs, farmers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers, regardless of size, suffer significant economic hardships. Most importantly, the vast majority of businesses who suffer this economic hardship have nothing to do with any single food safety incident. In addition, small and local food operations have been associated with a number of food safety incidents and recalls over the last decade and are not immune based on size of operation, distance of geography or commodity.

"Statements have been made indicating that fresh produce would be covered under this bill and consumers could be more confident in their food supply. Unfortunately, consumers will be left vulnerable to the gaping holes and uneven application of the law created by these exemptions. An effective food safety program in the U.S. is a shared responsibility of everyone. Most importantly, each of us has to do our part whether we are a producer, processor, food retailer or food service provider, or a consumer. This also means that Congress needs to do its part by supporting a uniform food safety bill that will enhance food safety for citizens of this country and reject arbitrary exemptions that pick winners and losers.”

The cloture motion was passed on a vote of 74-25. The Senate will now move forward with up to 30 hours of debate on this bill before coming up for final passage.

Large Versus Small Debate Continues
As not all are in agreement regarding the topic of food safety, small growers, too, have pled their case, pointing out that they often don’t have the financing to pay for third-party audits, etc., that would be required of them in order to be in compliance with future food safety regulations — among other things.

American Vegetable Grower touched base with both large and small growers to find out where they stand on the food safety issue, specifically a National Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement. To read the article,. 

In addition, food safety and the locally grown movement was part of the discussion in the editorial of AVG’s June issue. A question that came up was: Will the impact of legislation blanketing all growers have a negative effect on the locally grown movement? To read feedback received from the editorial,. 

 

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Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

There should no exemptions from the provisions of this bill with the exception of food produced for your own consumption. Any food produced for sale, give away to others, etc. should be completely covered under this bill

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

I am a small producer who will likely be impacted by this legislation. I am tired of government intrusion and regulation and may not be able to afford the impact. Why is it I have the right to say anything I want, but the government wants to regulate what goes in my mouth? This is nothing but a big industry grab to get back in control of markets they are losing to the local food movement.
The notion that we can protect people who do not understand that the things they ingest may not be clean via legislation is as stupid as the people who put food that may be dirty in their mouths.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

I think the exemption is good. It would make sense to give financial support to the big farms if the Government thinks there needs to be changes and to teach the little farms better management.This is a better solution than ruining the entire Industry.Also I think this act is unconstitutional. Farming is one of our greatest assets and an American way of life especially the little guy.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Yes, certain small standards sould be adopted, but I’m fearful of the scope of what this act will mandate. Too often history repeats itself. Remember the food purity act of 1959(?) that dramatically changed the way we produce milk? The only way to make it economically feasible was to either expand your operation or get out. I’m afraid of what this will do to all smaller and midsize producers. We have the changes to milk production standards to thank for CAFO’s and “factory farms” for meat production. No more bucolic producers with a couple dozen cows. The fruit and vegetable industry is now poised to follow suit.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

The Government seams to be putting their time to good use by looking after the American food saftey. The challange is that they are focused on controling people and lives instead of protecting the American food industry. Whatever is finally written in this bill will be influenced by the Mega Ag Corperate lobbists. Lobbists are paid to have laws written in their favor. Mid and small farmers do have the resorses to hire lobbists. Any national food issue we know of has been mutli state national out brakes that the small farmers are not scaled to service. The government will be better off turning their attention to other issues. Focus on education of good healthy nutritionally packed local food to prevent health issues we are currently dealing with like obesity and diabetes. Years ago the average farmer could feed 12 families and their own. Today the average farmer is reported to be able to feed 250+ families but not his own. Our dependence on national mega farm food suppliers is only one crisis away from coming to a complete hult. Most local grocery stores are days away from being compltetely empty if there was no more trucks coming to resupply. Educate people how to prepare safe to eat food.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Ultimately the best thing we can do to ensure a safe food supply is have real competition in the marketplace. Producers- large and small- need to know that if they screw up, they *will* lose customers, because they’ll be able to vote with their feet by buying from someone else. Natural Selections and Dole got a big bloody nose from the 2006 E. coli outbreak… but they’re still around. I don’t see that as good motivation to follow established good practices, whether they’re FDA-mandated or not.

To that end, I don’t advocate lack of regulation- but it’s seriously unwise to regulate in ways that prevent entry into the marketplace. New farms have to start somewhere and with the average farmer already at age 55, I can’t believe putting up more roadblocks to people entering this business is a good idea.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

There should no exemptions from the provisions of this bill with the exception of food produced for your own consumption. Any food produced for sale, give away to others, etc. should be completely covered under this bill

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

I am a small producer who will likely be impacted by this legislation. I am tired of government intrusion and regulation and may not be able to afford the impact. Why is it I have the right to say anything I want, but the government wants to regulate what goes in my mouth? This is nothing but a big industry grab to get back in control of markets they are losing to the local food movement.
The notion that we can protect people who do not understand that the things they ingest may not be clean via legislation is as stupid as the people who put food that may be dirty in their mouths.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

I think the exemption is good. It would make sense to give financial support to the big farms if the Government thinks there needs to be changes and to teach the little farms better management.This is a better solution than ruining the entire Industry.Also I think this act is unconstitutional. Farming is one of our greatest assets and an American way of life especially the little guy.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Yes, certain small standards sould be adopted, but I’m fearful of the scope of what this act will mandate. Too often history repeats itself. Remember the food purity act of 1959(?) that dramatically changed the way we produce milk? The only way to make it economically feasible was to either expand your operation or get out. I’m afraid of what this will do to all smaller and midsize producers. We have the changes to milk production standards to thank for CAFO’s and “factory farms” for meat production. No more bucolic producers with a couple dozen cows. The fruit and vegetable industry is now poised to follow suit.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

The Government seams to be putting their time to good use by looking after the American food saftey. The challange is that they are focused on controling people and lives instead of protecting the American food industry. Whatever is finally written in this bill will be influenced by the Mega Ag Corperate lobbists. Lobbists are paid to have laws written in their favor. Mid and small farmers do have the resorses to hire lobbists. Any national food issue we know of has been mutli state national out brakes that the small farmers are not scaled to service. The government will be better off turning their attention to other issues. Focus on education of good healthy nutritionally packed local food to prevent health issues we are currently dealing with like obesity and diabetes. Years ago the average farmer could feed 12 families and their own. Today the average farmer is reported to be able to feed 250+ families but not his own. Our dependence on national mega farm food suppliers is only one crisis away from coming to a complete hult. Most local grocery stores are days away from being compltetely empty if there was no more trucks coming to resupply. Educate people how to prepare safe to eat food.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Ultimately the best thing we can do to ensure a safe food supply is have real competition in the marketplace. Producers- large and small- need to know that if they screw up, they *will* lose customers, because they’ll be able to vote with their feet by buying from someone else. Natural Selections and Dole got a big bloody nose from the 2006 E. coli outbreak… but they’re still around. I don’t see that as good motivation to follow established good practices, whether they’re FDA-mandated or not.

To that end, I don’t advocate lack of regulation- but it’s seriously unwise to regulate in ways that prevent entry into the marketplace. New farms have to start somewhere and with the average farmer already at age 55, I can’t believe putting up more roadblocks to people entering this business is a good idea.