I see that Rep. George Radanovich, R-Calif., spoke on the House floor and struck a semi-bipartisan tone about the fiscal year 2010 Energy and Water Appropriations bill. From this comments, provided in an email from his office:
“I appreciate the amendments by Mr. Costa and Mr. Cardoza because any action to help alleviate this man made drought is needed. Facilitating transfers of water from areas of California that have water to spare to the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley is a good start but this is just a drop in the bucket. We must have increased pumping out of the Delta.
“Temporary solutions such as the Two Gates and the Canal Inter-tie projects in addition to the voiding the biological opinions are necessary to keep our farmers in the San Joaquin Valley farming. These projects must be constructed and online by this fall in order to provide any relief to this terrible drought.
“Unfortunately, yesterday House Democrats on the Rules Committee denied consideration of three additional amendments offered by Mr. Nunes that would have gone a long way to helping fix our regulatory drought.
“Solving one of the worst crises the San Joaquin Valley has ever seen should not be a partisan issue and I urge my friends on the other side of the aisle to allow all solutions to our current problems to be debated and voted on by the full House.”
TK: Rarely do you find the completely bipartisan issue in Congress, but agricultural issues like water and food safety come close – at least in theory.
Speaking of food safety, here are the opening statements from Thursday’s hearing on food safety from the House Agriculture Committee.
Mr. Larry Wooten, President, North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation, on behalf of American Farm Bureau Federation, Raleigh, North
Mr. J. Patrick Boyle, President, American Meat Institute, Washington, D.C.
Ms. Carol Tucker-Foreman, Distinguished Fellow, The Food Policy Institute, Consumer Federation of America, Washington, D.C.
Sam Ives, DVM, Ph.D., Director of Veterinary Services and Associate Director of Research, Cactus Feeders, Ltd., on behalf of
National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Amarillo, Texas
Mr. Kent Peppler, President, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, on behalf of National Farmers Union, Mead, Colorado
Mr. Bob Reinhard, Director of Food Safety for Sara Lee, and Chairman, Technical and Regulatory Committee, of the National Turkey Federation, Downers Grove, Illinois
Mr. Nicholas Maravell, Owner and Operator, Nick's Organic Farm, LLC, Potomac, Maryland
Mr. Drew McDonald, Vice President National Quality Systems, Taylor Farms, Inc., on behalf of United Fresh Produce Association,
Mr. Jerold Mande, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
Ms. Cindy Smith, Acting Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Mike Taylor, Senior Advisor to the Commissioner, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Rockville, Maryland
TK: This morning Consumers Union has issued a press release urging Congress to take “swift action” on the Food Safety Enhancement Act before its August recess. The release particularly noted the reservations about the legislation coming from smaller producers:
The FSEA contains several provisions long advocated by Consumers Union. It would require facilities to have written food safety plans, give FDA authority to recall contaminated products and require FDA to inspect high risk facilities at least once a year. Consumers Union has pushed hard for one of the bill’s important provisions: requiring high-risk food processors to test for contaminants and tell the FDA when they find them in a finished product. “Had this provision already been in place, it is possible that the deadly peanut product debacle of early 2009 could have been avoided,” said Halloran.
Speculation that FSEA could “destroy” small farms and organic growers has circulated online and elsewhere, focusing primarily on provisions that direct FDA to develop on-farm standards for produce to prevent problems like deadly E. coli in spinach. The FSEA has sought to address small-scale and organic farmer concerns by requiring FDA to take into account the impact the regulations would have on small-scale and diversified farms, wildlife habitat, conservation practices, watershed protection efforts, and organic production methods.
“The provisions of the FSEA that direct FDA to address on-farm food safety practices, such as whether workers have bathroom facilities, are not as comprehensive as the sections for food processing,” said Halloran. “The FSEA stipulates that food processors must be inspected within certain time periods, but does not set any requirements for FDA inspection of farms. Nevertheless, we think this is a very good bill overall that will address the most important causes of contamination of food with deadly bacteria.”
Consumers Union urges the House of Representatives not to delay further, and to pass H.R. 2749 before Congress adjourns for the August recess.
TK: I don’t think there is any doubt the House will pass the Food Safety Enhancement Act in good time, but the testimony indicates not all are pleased with that prospect - particularly the element of on-farm preventive controls by FDA.
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