Food Safety Bill – S.510 and the Tester Amendment

Tester Amendment’s Importance for Small Family Farms and Consumers of Local Products

The 2012 food safety amendment, S.510, as written, offered a one-size fits-all approach that would place a heavy burden on smaller food producers. The Tester-Hagan Amendment (Jon Tester, D-MT and Kay Hagan D-NC) would exempt small farms and processing facilities from federal regulations, instead they would continue to be regulated by state standards.

Brief History (through 2012)

The pending Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510) was crafted in March 2009 in response to growing concerns over food safety. The main goal of this bill, still being considered by the Senate, is to give theFDA new authorities and resources to prevent food safety issues. S.510. While there is broad agreement on the need to improve food safety and support for much of the bill, the bill threatens small and mid-size farmers and processors due to its one-size-fits all approach.

Ferd Hoefner, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) policy director, emphasized the need for size appropriate regulation in NSAC’s October 20 press release, “It is critical that as we ramp up food safety protections we do not inadvertently create economic havoc for our family farmers or shut down new investments in local and regional food systems that are vital to economic recovery, public health, and nutritional wellbeing.”

The Tester Amendment, introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) and co-sponsored by Senator Kay Hagan’s (D-NC), proposes size appropriate alternative for farmers and processor. Many organic and sustainable food and farming advocates support adding the Tester Amendment language to S.510 as well as the Manager’s Amendment.

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