The U.S. Senate is still working on S. 510, the Federal Food Safety Modernization Act. Senator Jon Tester of Montana is offering amendments to ensure that food safety rules don’t put family farmers out of business.
We need your help to gain support for these amendments.
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.
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.
(Further background information is available below.)
Please contact your Senators and ask them to:
- Support Senator Tester’s amendment to exempt small, local processing facilities from the bill’s hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls requirements and traceability requirements; and
- Support Senator Tester’s amendment to exempt direct-marketing farms from the FDA produce standards.
Then let us know what response you receive by using this response form.
The telephone number for the U.S. Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121, or you can look up the contact information for your Senators below.
- Senator Ron Wyden at (202) 224-5244 orhttp://wyden.senate.gov/contact/
- Senator Jeff Merkley at (202) 224-3753 orhttp://merkley.senate.gov/contact/
- Senator Mike Crapo at (202) 224-6142 orhttp://crapo.senate.gov/contact/email.cfm
- Senator James Risch at (202) 224-2752 orhttp://risch.senate.gov/webform.cfm
Not from Oregon or Idaho? Find your senators athttp://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
Please pass on this information to your friends and the organizations you support by using the email link at the bottom of the page. The Western Organization of Resource Councils recently presented a letter to the Senate urging support for these amendments with 117 organizations signing on. Read the letter in its entirety (PDF).
Farmers and processors who sell directly to consumers and end users have a direct relationship with their customers that ensures quality, safety, transparency and accountability. 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.
Although the Committee-passed bill includes some provisions for flexibility for small and diversified producers, S. 510 still would establish new hazardous analysis and risk-based preventive controls for all facilities and authorize FDA to dictate growing and harvesting practices for produce. These requirements will impose significant expenses and burdens on individuals and small businesses.
Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls
We urge you to support Senator Tester’s amendment to exempt small, local processing facilities from the bill’s hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls requirements and traceability requirements.
1) With respect to the hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls, add the following new section to Section 103:
(l) EXEMPTION FOR CERTAIN FACILITIES – This section shall not apply to a facility for a year if the average annual adjusted gross income of such facility for the previous three-year period was less than $500,000.
2) With respect to traceability, add the following new section to Section 204:
(f) EXEMPTION FOR CERTAIN FACILITIES – The traceback and recordkeeping requirements under this section shall not apply to a facility for a year if the adjusted gross income of such facility for the previous year was less than $500,000.
FDA Produce Standards
We also request that you consider Senator Tester’s amendment to exempt direct-marketing farms from the FDA produce standards. With respect to the produce standards, add the following new section to Section 105:
(g) EXCEPTION FOR DIRECT MARKET FARMS – This section shall not apply to farms whose annual value of sales of food products directly to consumers, hotels, restaurants, or institutions exceeds the annual value of sales of food products to all other buyers.
Food safety is a priority for us all. We share the concerns that have led to this bill and appreciate Congress’s commitment to addressing these problems. Thank you for your consideration, and for your support of a safer, more sustainable food system and consumer access to healthy, local foods.
For more information…
- Read the Oregonian op-ed by Oregon Rural Action members Phil and Dianne Greif, “Food safety: One size doesn’t fit all”
- Read “Why Small Farms Are Safer” from the Atlantic magazine
- Read our past action alerts on the food safety legislation
- Read Gus’s story to learn how this legislation will affect local farmers
- Download a Q&A on the amendments proposed by Senator Jon Tester
- Download a fact sheet on S. 510
- Download a case study on how other farmers throughout the country would be impacted