Please read this update on the SB 510, the Food Safety Bill that was recently passed in the US Senate. The Ecology Center’s views are in alignment with that of Community Alliance with Family Farmers:
“SB 510, the FDA Food Safety bill, passed the US Senate yesterday by a vote of 73-25. It contains virtually all of the improvements to the House bill that we have been seeking for the past year-under the belief that some food safety bill would pass and we should make it as favorable to farmers as we could-including reductions in paperwork requirements for farmers, environmental protections, training programs for small operators, and conformity with the National Organic Program. It contains the Tester-Hagan amendments that exempt certain small farms from potentially onerous federal requirements, such as having to create expensive HACCP plans. All farms will still be subject to state and local regulation. What happens in the future will depend on FDA regulatory proceedings and the implementation of such regulations, but I do not believe that we could expect better legislation. I cannot promise you that there will be no suffering from food safety regulation, but we are in a much better position than we were in June 2009, when the House passed HR 2749.
“Now the bill goes to the House of Representatives. Normally, there would be a conference committee to harmonize HR 2749 and S 510. However, with the brief remaining time in the current legislative session, this is not possible, especially since the bills are so different. Since we believe that S 510 is much superior to HR 2749, we support the House passing S 510 immediately just as it is.
“The small farm and local food exemptions in S 510 have led Western Growers, United Fresh Produce Association, Produce Marketing Association, etc. to oppose the bill. They are simply representing the interests of their members, who are not mainly small farms and local food providers, and who want one-size-fits-all regulations that they can easily achieve but that will drive many smaller operations out of business.
“Many farmers I have talked to do not want the FDA regulating farms. Unfortunately, the FDA already has this authority and is actively using it. S 510 will actually provide some protections for farmers, while at the same time strengthening FDA’s authority over food processors and imported foods, the real sources of food safety problems in produce.
“If you agree that S 510 should become law just as it is, then you should contact Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee Henry Waxman and urge them to bring S 510 to the floor immediately and vote on it. Two of the key figures in deciding this are from California and you can influence the outcome. Of course you can then also contact your own Congressperson and ask him/her to vote for S 510.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-8th)
2371 Rayburn House Office Building
(202) 225-4965; Fax (202) 225-8259
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-30th)
2204 Rayburn House Office Building
(202) 225-3976; Fax (202) 225-4099
“For more information, please contact CAFF Policy Director David Runsten at (530) 756-8518 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.”