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Amendment Makes Small Farms Exempt From Some Food Bill Regulations

An amendment exempting small farmers from some FDA regulation has been added to the Food Safety Bill. The definition of "local" becomes a tighter radius.

farmers market food and sales

Photo: Corey Templeton (flickr)

Small farmers selling directly to consumers within state lines or within a 275 radius would now be exempt from some regulations outlined in the Food Safety Bill.

News of the Senate’s dealings with the Food Safety Modernization Act (s. 510) continues to make headlines. Most recently, a new amendment has been added to the bill that will exempt small farmers and producers.

The Tester-Hagan Amendment, introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) who himself is an organic farmer, would make exempt farms from the FDA regulations proposed in the bill that sell directly to consumers, restaurants, or retailers within state lines. It would also apply to producers who sell within 275 miles and make less than $500,000 annually. The exemption would be withdrawn if it is found that the producer is connected to a food-borne illness outbreak.

The reasoning behind the amendment is that small producers lack the resources necessary to comply with the FDA regulations proposed in the bill. According to Michael Pollan, as reported by the Washington Post, consumer groups initially disagreed with the amendment because they say food safety is a risk no matter the size of the producer. Pollan cited a recent e coli scare where a small producer fed into a large wholesale operation.

To appease critics, language in the amendment was modified to shrink the selling radius from 400 to 275 miles. This changes the definition of local as set up in the 2008 Farm Bill.

Read More:

  • Senate Food Safety Bill Moves Ahead (Food Safety News)
  • 3 Factors Holding Up The Food Safety Reform Bill (s. 510) (Change)
  • Michael Pollan On The Food Safety Bill (Washington Post)
  • Tester Amendment Protecting Local Food Production Now Attached To Food-Safety Bill (Grist)
Annie Corrigan

Annie Corrigan is a producer and announcer for WFIU. In addition to serving as the local voice for NPR's Morning Edition, she produces WFIU's weekly sustainable food program Earth Eats. She earned degrees in oboe performance from Indiana University and Bowling Green State University.

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