Senators came to an agreement to include the Tester-Hagan amendment as part of the food safety bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last night, U.S. Senator Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) and Jon Tester (D-MT) successfully fought for small farmers. An agreement was reached on the Tester-Hagan amendment to the Food Safety Modernization Act, which is currently being considered by the U.S. Senate. The amendment protects small producers from excessive government regulations in the bill. Yesterday, the Food Safety Bill passed a key procedural hurdle by a vote of 74 to 25. The final version of the bill is likely to be voted on in the Senate by the end of the week.
“This amendment is a critical change to the food safety legislation and will protect our small producers from excessive government red tape,” Hagan said. “Senator Tester and I worked with our colleagues to ensure this amendment’s inclusion in the final food safety bill, and this protection will benefit small farmers across North Carolina. Agriculture is our state’s largest industry, and I am working in the Senate to ensure we can grow jobs in this tough economy.”
Under the Tester-Hagan amendment, small producers will continue to be regulated at the state and local level. The amendment applies to small producers who sell most of their food directly to consumers, local restaurants and retailers within a 275 mile radius, and producers that earn $500,000 or less in annual sales
Hagan also included a provision in the bill to help farmers who suffer losses due to erroneous recalls. For instance, North Carolina tomato growers suffered when the Food and Drug Administration mistakenly cited tomatoes following a salmonella outbreak when the problem turned out to be a pepper farm in Mexico. Consumer demand for tomatoes dropped 50 to 60 percent. Hagan’s provision will require the government to evaluate ways to appropriately compensate farmers when a recall is determined to be erroneous.
Agriculture is North Carolina’s largest industry, generating $74 billion in economic activity and employing nearly one-fifth of the state’s workers.