NSAC's Blog

President Obama Signs Food Safety Modernization Act into Law

January 7, 2011

On Tuesday, January 4, President Obama signed the Food Safety Modernization Act into law, marking the end of the bill’s tumultuous road to passage and the beginning of what may prove to be another lengthy road to correctly implement and fund its provisions.

As reported in a number of previous blog posts, the bill – if funded – will be the first major overhaul of food safety regulations in nearly a century.  It provides the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the authority to increase risk-based inspections, require mandatory recalls of tainted food, and more effectively trace foodborne illness outbreaks to their source.

For nearly two years, NSAC and other family farm advocates at the grassroots and in DC helped lead efforts to win small and mid-size farm amendments to the legislation. The bill is far from perfect, but several NSAC-backed amendments assure protections and size-appropriate alternatives from cumbersome, one-size-fits-all regulations for smaller farms and processors and for local and regional food systems, as well as some protections for wildlife and natural resource conservation and for organic farming.  Read more about these provisions here.

The legislation, which is estimated to cost $1.4 billion over five years, faces an uphill battle for funding in the budget-conscious 112th Congress.  Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), the incoming chair of the appropriations subcommittee that oversees the FDA’s budget, has threatened to withhold funding for its implementation, calling our nation’s food supply “99.99 percent safe.”

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), one of the bill’s co-sponsors, believes that Republican opposition to funding the bill may be a bluff.  “Here’s a food safety bill supported by consumer groups, all the business groups, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Consumer’s League.  We had 73 votes in the Senate on this bill and they don’t want to fund it?”

Whatever the fiscal outcome, NSAC will continue to work to ensure that protections for small and mid-sized farms and local and regional food systems are preserved as the bill’s provisions are rolled out as rules and guidance from the FDA over the next few years.

Categories: Food Safety

6 responses to “President Obama Signs Food Safety Modernization Act into Law”

  1. Julia Ryan says:


  2. Diane Galusha says:

    Two questions:
    Are the provisions you advocated for small farms (described in your Action Alert last fall) make it into the final bill that was signed into law?
    Does the new law contain any restrictions to or ramifications for heritage seed or heirloom breed production, propagation or distribution?

  3. ahigby says:

    The Food Safety Modernization Act signed by the President includes those amendments friendly to small and mid sized farmer and processors supported by NSAC and allies. FDA will be issuing regulations sometime over the next 18 months implementing the new Act. Comments on the proposed rule from farmers will be essential to ensuring that the amendments are properly interpreted and implemented, so stay tuned…. The law does not prohibit seed saving or heirloom seed production, propagation or distribution.