The Federal Food Safety Modernization Act, or S.510, looks to be coming up for a vote this week.
While local and safe food advocates have been successful in pushing for some fixes that exempt small, local producers selling direct to consumers, there are still serious concerns over how this bill treats smaller producers and especially smaller-scale processing facilities.
Most people passionate about local foods and sustainable economies know that it’s the processing, storage, and distribution of local foods that is often the sticking point in the system. Any meaningful change in the food system toward one that supports local producers and vibrant local economies must contain some component of processing to really break the chains of corporate control and keep food dollars local.
Too, it’s obvious that the real tragedies concerning food safety in this country have not been caused by local producers selling direct to consumers in a short and transparent supply chain. The problem is that S.510, as it stands, creates much more expense and hassle, proportionately, for the smaller producers than the larger ones.
Which means that we’re looking at regulations that will serve, once again, to protect the largest players by locking out the smaller and less powerful ones with only a tiny portion of the market share. The big guys want it all.
Despite being necessary on some level to curb the abuses of the bad operators, the current version of this law creates a serious roadblock to reviving our local food systems.
However, Senator Jon Tester of Montana has provided a common-sense amendment for S.510 that would exempt smaller producers and processors from industrial-scale federal rules proposed in the legislation.
If you have not already, please contact your senators and urge them to support the Tester Amendment to the Federal Food Safety Modernization Act.
For more information about S.510 or the Tester Amendment, visit WORC’s action page here.