S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 could expand the FDA’s power to oversee agricultural production, a function historically done by the USDA. What this means to small producers, CSA’s and other market garden operations is unclear. In its current form, it will impose a $500 fee on all food productions facilities no matter the size, even farm that minimally processes the produce at an on farm facility. Shelling and washing peas, for instance may be interpreted as processing.
The bill is still incomplete as it works its way through the system. Some changes to the draconian original version have been made and is somewhat more palpable. If you are a certified organic or Food Alliance grower, you are already familiar with the paperwork and record keeping. It just seems to be too much to ask of small farms and CSA’s. As well the contamination episodes in the food supply of recent years did not originate in the Sustainable Ag community. Indeed our cultural practices and hands on approach to farming eliminate many of the contamination sources.
“The controversy within the broad agriculture community is to what degree the ultimate legislation will increase the ability of the FDA to regulate farmers on how to produce food safely or who minimally process their products on-farm facilities. Many agricultural groups have been trying to modify the legislation to limit or carefully constrain the ability of the FDA to expand its regulatory authority over agricultural production. The major argument is that the source of the food safety problem is not with farm production practices or smaller limited often on farm processing, but rather with very large food processors that process high volumes of product.” Background and Resources on Federal Food Safety Enhancement Act, National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, November 23rd, 2009 http://attra.ncat.org/food_safety.html
I urge you to be in contact with your legislators and remind them of your concerns. We in the sustainable Ag community have already had an impact on this legislation. We must stay the course and keep fairness in the system.