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Farmer Food Safety Training Bill Gets Consumer Endorsement

February 2, 2010


Senator Debbie Stabenow’s Growing Safe Food Act received another boost this week when eight national consumer and public health organizations endorsed the bill and its inclusion as an amendment to the pending Senate food safety bill (S. 510) when it comes to the floor of the Senate in the near future.  The bill already has the strong support of scores of farmer and local food groups, including NSAC, the National Farmers Union, National Organic Coalition, and the Organic Trade Association.

consumer-buying-fresh-veggies“The combined support of farm and consumer groups in support of this important measure should send a clear message to the sponsors of S. 510,” according to NSAC’s Executive Director Aimee Witteman.  “Farmers and small-scale local food processors need and will respond favorably to training and technical assistance to help ensure food safety precautions in their operations.  The Growing Safe Food Act should be included as part of S. 510 without delay.”

Read more about what you can do to help win passage of this common sense measure here.  http://sustainableagriculture.net/take-action/

The consumer group letter follows…

Dear Senator Stabenow,

We are writing to express our support for ensuring that the manager’s package for S. 510 (FDA Food Safety Modernization Act) includes your bill, the Growing Safe Food Act of 2009 (S. 2758).

S. 510 is important, bipartisan legislation that will allow the Food and Drug Administration, through stronger authorities and enhanced enforcement tools, to better ensure the safety of our food supply. In addition to requiring food processors to develop food-safety plans, S. 510 also directs FDA to adopt on-farm safety standards for fresh produce. S. 2758 complements these requirements by providing grants for small farmers and processors to receive food-safety training, education, extension, outreach, and technical assistance that allows them to comply with the requirements of the new law.

We look forward to working with you in the coming weeks to move S. 510 in the Senate.

Sincerely,

American Public Health Association
Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention
Center for Science in the Public Interest
Consumer Federation of America
Consumers Union
Food & Water Watch
National Consumers League
The Pew Charitable Trusts


Categories: Food Safety


2 responses to “Farmer Food Safety Training Bill Gets Consumer Endorsement”

  1. Harry Hamil says:

    I find NSAC’s 11-16-09 letter and talking points astonishingly self-centered, short-sighted AND in the best interest of industrial ag.

    As occurred with HR 2748, if you are completely successful, sustainable ag will still be forced into a niche from which it will be lucky to escape in 20 years. Why? Because we haven’t protected our free-standing food distributors and processors. Except processors who qualify as “retail food establishments,” they will all–no matter how small–be forced to have food safety plan(s), food defense plan(s) and full traceability. How can these small enterprises possibly afford the financial and personnel costs? Haven’t you read what Pascal Destandau wrote about the impact on his creamery, Pug’s Leap Farm?

    It doesn’t do any good to grow the healthiest food in America if we can’t get it to market and HARPC plans will choke us at the distribution and processing stages in our local food systems.

    Your 2 track approach to facility registration completely forgets that the purpose of facilities registration is for food defense/bioterrorism. In that case, we want an extremely broad definition of facility. They have grafted food safety which is about stopping unintentional acts on top of a food defense/bioterrorism foundation which is about stopping intentional acts.

    The FDA’s Final Egg Rule applies ONLY to growers with 3000 or more laying hens. The FDA has clearly recognized size as mattering and that the existing federalized system is working. And the expense of compliance in that case is a tiny fraction of what it will be Hazard Analysis & Risk-based Preventive Control (HARPC please pronounce it “harps”) plans. The easiest way is to advocate a threshold for application of the requirements just as in the Final Egg Rule. Because it covers so many different types of facilities, the best way I’ve come up with for S 510 is gross profit. My guess is $500,000 is the lowest that would allow a business to reasonably amortize the cost.

    In addition, the 2002 Bioterrorism law clearly states, farms are not “facilities.” The FDA was incompetent and we were so asleep that we didn’t call it on the fact that its definition in the CFR states “Farms means a facility…” while the 21USC350d(a) states, “Such term [facility] does not include farms…” And the law always trumps the regulation. Though we missed it then, we can still call the FDA on it now which, of course, also illustrates the FDA’s lack of competence in another area.

    Finally, Section 105 Standards for Produce Safety is being allowed to pass essentially whole. Small ag will get wiped out in the “rulemaking to establish science-based minimum standards for the safe production and harvesting of those types of fruits and vegetables that are raw agricultural commodities.” This new rulemaking will require many, many times the effort it has taken to fight the NLGMA. And I was one of those who testified so I know too damn much about the cost of responding to that rulemaking demand. My estimate is Section 105 will probably require, at least, a dozen times as much effort as has been expended on the NOP. And then we will still have industrial ag rules not sustainable ag one.

    Section 105 needs to be fought to the death because, if it passes, it is a death sentence for many of us, small growers. Plus, its ripple effect will crater other businesses built to supply us and work with our output. I’m both sides of that transaction so I’m doubly hit.
    And think of those farmers who have joined with other farmers to vertically integrate or who listened to the all the department of ag people and expanded into value-added processing. They will have to know how to comply with both HARPC plans and the produce safety standards.

    I intend to be in your face about this because the NSAC is continuing to fail us and I intend to tell everyone who will listen to me that you are.

    I’ll happily defend everything I’ve written to anybody who calls 828/669-4003, 8 AM – 8 PM Monday – Saturday.

  2. jdaniel says:

    Thank you for your input. We’ve just posted a new entry with an update on NSAC’s strategy on food safety, which includes Senator Stabenow’s training bill, but also addresses a number of your concerns: http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/food-safety-update/

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