It appears likely that the Food Safety Modernization Act will pass in this lame duck Congress session despite the Senate breaching some funding protocol.
And if it does pass, the produce industry will have to follow the rules.
But the industry is justified in opposing the bill on the grounds that the small farm exemption is not science-based and undermines the overall industry’s credibility.
If anything, small operations are more likely to need strict rules and oversight compared to the more self-regulated, professional operations in the commercial produce industry.
Big and small produce companies grow the same lettuce, tree fruit and melons in the same soil, trees and climate, with the same potential for pathogens to exist that must be eliminated before consumers can eat them.
The produce industry is not against food safety, as some critics have charged at produce industry groups who have criticized Sen. Jon Tester’s amendment that includes the small farm exemptions.
On the contrary.
The industry groups only want strict guidelines for all. If companies — big or small — can’t follow the same rules, they should not operate in the industry.
The Tester amendment stinks, and the industry should say so.
Consumers may be ignorant to many of the intricacies of agriculture, but they will understand that by allowing small producers to be exempt from this food safety law, consumers are less safe, not more.
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