Commissioner, last week the Senate approved a bill aimed at improving food safety across the country:
“Well, you know it is strange that it took forever to get this bill to the Senate, and now it has passed the Senate, but it does have a provision in it that could let the House object.”
Now, our own senator Kay Hagan, and Sen. John Tester from Montana put together an exemption for small producers:
“They did. You know, this bill is far reaching, and would require FDA to do inspections of food facilities and gives them authority to recall tainted food, for the first time rather than rely on food producers to issue the recalls voluntarily, so it will be quite a change.
There’s also the exemption for the small producers, and I’m a very big proponent of food safety because it’s an agricultural issue, and these recalls have been killing us. But, I was also skeptical if a one-size-fits-all approach to food safety was going to work. So this gives us leeway when dealing with especially, small producers.”
Another one of the problems that bill is having is that several farm organizations that originally endorsed that bill have withdrawn their support:
“They have. And how all this is going to play out when the final reconciliation of the bill is done, you know, I don’t know. I think some of the farm organizations think that if one farmer is going to have to do it, they’re all going to have to do it, and the exemption that is there is not exactly what I wanted, but it does make it more scale appropriate.”
Now, let’s talk about whether the bill becomes law or not, the FDA is going to move forward:
“They are. The FDA has been making plans for quite some time now on how to especially regulate fresh fruits and vegetables and there’s going to be a lot of input from the farm side on the possible regulations and rules that are out there, and I will be a part of that at some point in time through my duties through being chairman of the committee at NASDA on Food Nutrition and Regulatory Affairs.”
Commissioner, is there anything you’d like to add?:
“Well, you know, I think that the good thing to point out is that farmers that have under $500,000 in sales or sell their food within a 275 mile radius, or within the same state will be exempt from these regulations.”
That’s excellent news. That wraps up our weekly visit with North Carolina’s Ag Commissioner Steve Troxler.