By Carol McCracken (Post # 648)
Although the US Senate passed a sweeping new food safety regulation this past Tuesday in a bipartisan vote of 73-25, it’s possible the US House won’t pass it and the Bill may have to start from scratch next session. S.510 would expand the Food and Drug Administration’s authority to inspect food plants and issue mandatory recalls. It was especially welcome here in Maine, because the bill would also protect small-scale farmers and food producers from costly new regulations.
The protection for small farmers and producers was due to an amendment introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) that was considered controversial by some Senators. However, the bill did pass the Senate with the Tester amendment in tact. But, the Constitution specificies that any “tax provisions” included in legislation must originate in the US House of Representatives.
This landmark legislation which was being closely monitored by Maine farmers and producers would have been the first time in 70 years that Congress has addressed deficiencies in the nation’s food system. According to “Roll Call” the Capital newspaper there are several choices for the Senate to get the legislation through, but that path has yet to be determined. For more information, please see Post # 638, 11/17.
In another food item coming from “Sustainable Food News,” the University of Maine Coooperative Extension has just been selected as one of 10 host sites to be the beneficiary of a new national school garden and farm-to-school service program. The program runs from 2011 – 2012 for the University. It is administered by Food Corps which is a new national AmeriCorps program. According to “SFN”, the program focuses on service in rural, urban, and suburban school food systems that have children challenged with high rates of obesity and limited access to healthy foods.
The program places instructors in local schools to build and tend school gardens, conduct nudtrition education and increase the quality of the food served in the lunchroom. FoodCorps will put 82 members on the ground in 10 states to work 139,400 hours starting next year.
This was a competitive process, in which FoodCorps reviewed 108 host site proposals submitted from 39 states and the District of Columbia.
Sustainable Food News is an on-line, daily organic news service to the food industry edited by Hill resident Dan McGovern. For more information on this service, please call Dan at 207 – 749-5249.