NSAC's Blog

Congress Sends Food Safety Bill to President’s Desk

December 21, 2010

On December 21, 2010, the House of Representatives voted 215-144 to pass the Senate version of the Food Safety Modernization Act, with the Tester-Hagan amendment protecting small farms intact.  This final vote by the House ends weeks of procedural wrangling, and sends the bill to the President’s desk for enactment.

As we reported in a previous blog post, the food safety bill hit a roadblock after passing the Senate in late November because a provision requiring the collection of user fees violated the Constitutional mandate that all revenue-generating measures must originate in the House.  House leaders then attached the bill as an amendment to two separate spending bills, neither of which were able to gain sufficient support.

Then, on Sunday, December 19, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) circumvented the original technical mistake by attaching the bill to a House-originated measure (HR 2751) authorizing a cash-for-clunkers program – a “shell bill” with bipartisan support.  The Senate approved this shell bill by voice vote.  The final bill passed today by the House mirrors the bill passed three weeks ago by the Senate.

It includes six NSAC-supported amendments championed by:

  • 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.
  • Senator Sanders (I-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-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.

NSAC has been a primary player in negotiations over the content of the Food Safety Modernization Act for more than a year.  We regard passage of this bill as a great accomplishment, as it will help promote food safety with scale-appropriate standards.

Categories: Food Safety

16 responses to “Congress Sends Food Safety Bill to President’s Desk”

  1. House voted 215-144 to pass Food Safety Act, w/ Tester-Hagan amend protecting small farms intact. http://tinyurl.com/2eautc6

  2. The Food Safety Bill goes with 215-144 votes to the President’s Desk…

  3. Thanks http://www.wildfarmalliance.org. Congress just passed food safety bill that minimizes impacts on wildlife habitat http://tinyurl.com/2eautc6

  4. Lorna Donaldson says:

    Ferd and Team, thanks for all the hard work on this Food Safety Bill.

  5. Lorna Donaldson says:

    Ferd and Team, thanks for all the hard work on this Food Safety Bill.

  6. […] Food Safety, New Markets Tax Credit both passed U.S. Legislature Posted on December 22, 2010 by Michigan Rural Network Two pieces of legislation that could significantly impact rural areas have been passed this week.  On Tuesday, the United States House of Representatives voted to pass S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act.  The House had passed the bill earlier in the year, but the Senate made significant changes to it, including adding several amendments, and sent it back to the House.  For more details about the bill, including potential impacts on producers, as written by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, click here. […]

  7. HJR says:

    In this final version, at what point are our small farms considered facilities? Can farmers package the food we raise without falling under S510 rules and FDA jurisdiction?

    If the FDA is given the authority to exempt small farms from onerous or cost prohibitive or unfeasible requirements, do farmers have any redress or protection provided if the FDA does not use their authority to exempt small farms or modify regs for small farms?

    To whom or what is the FDA accountable when crafting scale appropriate regs for small farms? Who will create those rules?

    If farmers have a choice between state and federal regs under the Tester-Hagan amendment, but the FDA requires the state through funding incentives to create rules equal to their own, is there still some protection provided to farmers under this amendment to S510?

    Thank you for posting this summary and all the work you’ve engaged in to affect so much change as possible within S510.

  8. […] control. Other amendments added are listed on this National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition post from […]