Tester: Updated Food Safety amendment protects small producers

(MISSOULA, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester today said that he expects the U.S. Senate to approve his amendment protecting small-scale food producers from expensive and unnecessary federal regulations proposed by the upcoming Food Safety Bill.

Tester’s amendment—available online  at tester.senate.gov/foodsafety – still allows local and state food safety and health agencies to oversee small-scale producers. 

Tester’s measure would apply to producers that:

  • Have annual sales of less than $500,000, and sell the majority of their product directly to consumers, restaurants and retailers within the same state—or within 400 miles, or that
  • Fall within the Food and Drug Administration’s category of “very small business”

Tester, a third-generation farmer, was joined by Missoula farmer Josh Slotnick, who explained that his farm lacks the resources to keep up with onerous new reporting requirements included in the Food Safety bill.  Without Tester’s amendment, Slotnick said, the legislation could dramatically affect his farming operations.

Paul Hubbard, a consumer advocate with the Community Food Agriculture Coalition, also strongly supports Tester’s amendment.

“Jon understands that a one-size-fits-all, cookie cutter approach to food safety just won’t work,” Hubbard said.  “We appreciate his work to boost food safety in a common sense way that will keep small family farms and ranches in business for future generations.”

“The folks with me here today know firsthand that food-borne illnesses don’t come from family agriculture,” said Tester, a third generation family farmer.  “As we do the vital work to make sure the food on our kitchen tables is safe, we’ve also got to make sure we don’t treat small producers the same way we treat big corporate farms.  That’s exactly what my amendment will fix.”

Tester’s amendment is supported by more than 150 local, state, and national food organizations and by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.