A Senate committee released a new version of the Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510) that is likely to come before the full Senate for approval this fall. It is significantly better for small produce farms than the companion House bill (HR2749) passed last year and the differences will have to be worked out in conference committee.
According to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the Senate bill, if amended as expected, will protect small farmers in several ways:
- Give FDA the authority to exempt small farms engaged in no- or low-risk processing or co-mingling activities from new regulations.
- Provide for a USDA grants program for food safety training for farmers, small processors, and wholesalers.
- Require FDA to apply sound science to any requirements that might impact wildlife on farms; the amendment is in response to fears that regulations pertaining to "animal encroachment" will devastate wildlife habitat.
- Exempt food that is direct marketed from farmers to consumers or grocery stores from stringent recordkeeping requirements.