Provisions Protecting Small Farmers in Food Safety Bill (S. 510)

This information is presented in response to an e-mail inquiry from a reader. It is not an endorsement of the legislation, though I do believe the legislation is better for having these provisions included.

The final Senate bill includes six amendments that each became part of the Manager’s amendment that the Senate has now approved.  Those include the amendments championed by:

  • Senator Sanders (D-VT) providing FDA 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.
  • 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.
  • Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) to provide for a USDA-delivered competitive grants program for food safety training for farmers, small processors and wholesalers, with a priority on small and mid-scale farms.
  • 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.
  • Senator Sherrod Brown (D-CO) 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.
  • Senators Jon Tester (D-MT) and Kay Hagan (D-NC) to give very small farms and food processing facilities as well as direct-market farms who sell locally the option of complying with state regulation or with modified, scale-appropriate federal regulation.

To read the Managers amendment (without Tester-Hagan) go to:

To read the Tester-Hagan amendment go to: Note that this version has been changed in the following ways:

  • The FDA gains the authority to withdraw its exemption from a farm or facility that has been associated with a food-borne illness outbreak
  • The radius a facility or farm can sell direct within and still be eligible to be a “qualified end-user” has been reduced from 400 miles to 275 miles
  • Language has been added clarifying that farmers market sales are “direct-to-consumer” for FDA’s purposes

You can find a .pdf with the full text of revisions to the Tester-Hagan amendment HERE.

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