FOOD NEWS: Courtesy of “Sustainable Food News”

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 664)

The “Sustainable Food News” just reported that yesterday the “U.S.  House of Representatives passed the Senate version of the Food Safety Modernization Act.  This gives the Food and Drug Administration authority to inspect food plants and issue mandatory recalls but protects small farmers and food producers from costly requirements.”

The legislation which passed by 215-144 will now go to the President for signing into law.

The proposed legislation ran into a number of snags along its path to passage.  The most recent one, last month, was caused when the Senate mandated revenue-generating that Constitutionally must be originated in the U.S.  House – not the Senate.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) Nev. fixed the problem by attaching the bill to a House-originaled measure, with bipartisan support.

“As an early supporter of food safety reform, ( the Organic Trade Association), is pleased that this critically needed legislation will provide greater consumer protection from food-home illness and is crafted to protect organic producers from duplicative track-back and record-keeping systems, or any requirements that would violate National Organic Standards,” said Christine Bushway,  OTA’s executive director.

It was Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont) who sponsored an amendment to the legislation that will exempt family farms and food producers from new regulations they can’t afford and don’t need, while holding industrial-scale food producers to higher food safety standards.  However, these small farms will still be overseen by local and state food safety and health agencies.

This amendment exempts farmers who sell the majority of their food directly to consumers, restaurants and retailers within the state, or within a 275-mile radius of where it was produced, and those producers who have less than $500,000 per year in sales.

This information was provided by “Sustainable Food News,” a daily, on-line only news service that services the organic food industry.  The publisher is Dan McGovern, a Hill resident.  For subscription information, please contact Dan at:  (207) 749.5249.

Please see Post # 640, dated November 19th herein for more background information.