A Victory for the Local and Regional Food Movement

A Victory for the Local and Regional Food Movement

President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act today, capping a long fight by NSAC and its members and allies for food safety rules that protect consumers without curbing the growing movement toward fresh, local and regional food.  The food safety bill passed by the House in July of 2009 would have imposed a one size fits all regulatory system biased toward  industrial agriculture with a regressive registration fee, expensive food safety plans, and regular on-farm FDA inspections regardless of the degree of the potential risk for food borne illness.  The new regulatory burdens threatened to erect formidable barriers to the develping local and regional markets for many small and moderate sized farms. 

For nearly two years, NSAC has led an effort to win small and mid-size farm amendments to the legislation.  It was a massive effort by advocates at the grassroots and in DC who together shaped and won change for a safer food system and size appropriate rules.

This bill represents a huge victory for our movement. Thank you for your calls, emails and faxes in support of small and mid-sized farms, fresh, safe, local and healthy food!!!

The NSAC supported amendments incorporated into the Food Safety Modernization Act and signed today by the President include:
An amendment, sponsored by Senator Sanders (I-VT), giving FDA the authority to either exempt farms engaged in low or no risk processing or co-mingling activities from new regulatory requirements or to modify particular regulatory requirements for such farming operations.

An amendment, sponsored by Senator Bennet (D-CO), to reduce unnecessary paperwork and excess regulation required under the preventative control plan and the produce standards sections of the bill, including instructions to FDA to minimize the number of different standards that apply to separate foods, to make requirements scale appropriate, and to prohibit FDA from requiring farms and other food facilities to hire outside consultants to write food safety plans.
An amendment, sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), to provide for a USDA-administered competitive grants program for food safety training for farmers, small processors and wholesalers, with a priority on small and mid-scale farms.
An amendment,  sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), to strip the bill of wildlife-threatening enforcement against “animal encroachment” of farms and require FDA to apply sound science to any requirements that might impact wildlife and wildlife habitat.

An amendment, sponsored by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), to exempt farmers from extensive and expensive traceability and recordkeeping requirements if they sell food directly to consumers or to grocery stores, to allow labeling that preserves the identity of the farm through to the consumer to satisfy traceability requirements, and to in most cases limit farm recordkeeping to the first point of sale when the product leaves the farm.

An amendment, sponsored by Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Kay Hagan (D-NC),to provide a size appropriate and less costly alternative to preventative control plans and produce standards for farmers who:

Direct market more than 50% of their products directly to consumers, stores or restaurants,
Have gross sales (direct and non-direct combined) of less than $500,000,
Sell to consumers, stores, or restaurants that are in-state or within 275 miles, and
Provide their customers with their name, address and contact information.
Thank you again for your calls and letters on this legislation.  And please note that NSAC took on the food safety fight with minimal funding to support the work. Our work is only beginning as we now need to engage the Administration over the details of how they implement the important provisions we fought so hard to secure.  Please help us to do this work and to respond quickly to other threats and opportunities for sustainable agriculture by making a tax deductible donation to NSAC today.


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