Food Safety bill shaped by Tester becomes law

Senator says law will result in stronger business and more jobs

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester says today’s signing of the bipartisan Food Safety Modernization Act will result in more jobs and stronger business for Montana’s and America’s family farms and food producers.

“Montana families and folks across the country deserve to know that the food on their dinner table is safe,” Tester said.  “This common sense new law will give folks that peace of mind by putting more accountability where the risk is.  Small businesses aren’t responsible for nationwide food-borne illness outbreaks, and they shouldn’t be blown out of business by the same regulations needed for the giant food factories. I’m proud we were able to work together to protect the jobs of, and strengthen business for countless family farmers and food processors across the country.”

Tester amended the new law to shield small farms and food processers from federal regulations they can’t afford and don’t need, while raising food safety standards for industrial-scale facilities that produce enormous amounts of food and ship it across the country.

Tester’s popular amendment was part of the legislation unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate in December.  The U.S. House of Representatives passed the legislation later that month.

Under Tester’s amendment, food producers would not be subject to new federal requirements if they:

  • Sell the majority of their food directly to consumers, restaurants, and retailers within the state, or within a 275-mile radius of where it was produced, and
  • Have less than $500,000 per year in sales.

Those producers would, however, continue to be overseen by local and state food safety and health agencies.

What Montanans Are Saying

“Senator Tester’s leadership and dedication to Montana agriculture paid off today.  The Food Safety Bill is a giant leap forward in improving our nation’s food safety and thanks to Jon, Montana’s small farmers will continue to be able to provide food to feed our country.”
–    Karl Sutton, Lake County Community Development Corporation

“Senator Tester's amendment has given great support to the national importance of Farmers Markets like the one we manage in Red Lodge so that we can continue to showcase high quality fresh, locally grown produce.  We are grateful for his common sense in understanding of this issue to small producers and his tenacity in seeing this bill through the legislative process.”
–    Eric Atkinson, farmer and co-manager of the Red Lodge farmers market

“We're starting from scratch building a small farm that serves local consumers, and this legislation, without Senator Tester's amendment, could have seriously damaged the small margins of time and resources we have to work with for success.  Family farmers have been well-represented by Jon, and we're happy he was able to show the leadership to maintain this amendment through the passage of the bill.”
–    Eric Berman, produce farmer from Great Falls