There has been much in the way of worry by farmers, especially the small, sustainable, organic, locavores about the new food safety legislation. I have read the latest version of the draft H.R. 759 and here are some thoughts on its impact on small farmer/producer/manufacturers, as well as some other thoughts.
$1000 fee for all “food facilities.”
This specifically exempts farms, but we get back to the problems of who a food “manufacturer” is that we deal with in our cases. For example, is a seller at a farmer’s market who washes and bags of cherries that they grew a “manufacturer”?
The industry standard traceability software section could be troublesome, however, Section 107(c)(4) provides and exemption from the requirements for food that is sold directly from farmers to consumers
Will the fact that the bill allows the FDA to require food to be certified as meeting safety standards by foreign governments make food safer? What about China, for example? Should we rely on their governmental inspection abilities after the powdered milk crisis?
Also, guidelines for imported foods – importers meeting the guidelines will receive expedited processing if they meet the guidelines. Section 805 is a bit vague about the impact of this. Provisions like this typically favor those producers with more resources that are easily able to get certified – favoring big agriculture? Why is the foreign inspectorate corps funded and staffed at the Secretary’s whim, but the local food safety FDA program is funded by the $1000 mandatory fees?
What about past problems?
As an aside, Section 105(4)(B) states that a company such as PCA would have been a Category 2 “low risk” facility, requiring random inspections as little as every three years. Would that have prevented the outbreak and deaths?
I’m going to read this again. Bottom line, it is time for us all to engage on this and the various other bills percolating in the Halls of Congress.