The Tester “Small Farm” Exemption to S.510 Exposed as a Scam: Part 1
|Dark Days for Small Farmers (photo: Life.com)|
Some of our readers and others have requested that we reference specific sections of the Tester Amendment to food safety bill S. 510 to outline why this does not help or exempt small food producers. The amendment has been sold to the critical public as “exempting” small farms and food producers from the entirety of the heavy-handed regulations of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth.
These small producer exemptions are only for “qualified facilities” and only pertain to subsections (a) through (i) and subsection (n) of S.510 — as outlined on page 5, line 15 in the Tester Amendment:
(2) EXEMPTION. –A qualified facility–
(A) shall not be subject to the requirements under subsections (a) through (i) and subsection (n) in an applicable calendar year.
Therefore, even a “very small business” making less than “$500K per year,” doing business “within 275 miles” and directly with “end-user customers” is still required to adhere to all of the regulations in the remaining subsections of the bill. That’s point number one which I’ll return to in Part 2 of this essay.
The agreement brokered by Tester would allow farmers who make less than $500,000 a year in revenue and sell directly to consumers, restaurants or grocery stores within their states or within 275 miles of their farms to avoid expensive food safety plans required of larger operations. (My emphasis in bold)
Written Plan and Documentation– The owner, operator, or agent in charge of a facility shall prepare a written plan that documents and describes the procedures used by the facility to comply with the requirements of this section, including analyzing the hazards under subsection (b) and identifying the preventive controls adopted under subsection (c) to address those hazards. Such written plan, together with the documentation described in subsection (g), shall be made promptly available to a duly authorized representative of the Secretary upon oral or written request.
- 3 years of comprehensive financial records indicating less than $500K in gross sales (Pg. 4, Line 11)
- I. Documentation that the owner, operator or agent of the facility has identified potential hazards associated with the food being processed, is implementing preventative controls to address those hazards, and is monitoring the preventative controls to ensure that such controls are effective (Pg. 5 line 20).
- II. Documentation (which may include licenses, inspection reports, certificates, permits, credentials, certification by an appropriate agency (such as the State Department of Agriculture) or other evidence of oversight), as specified by the Secretary that the facility is in compliance with state, local, county, or other non-Federal food safety law (Pg. 6, Line 5).
Because small producers are being forced to jump through stringent local and Federal regulatory hoops just to qualify, the bill appears to be designed not to make it “illegal” to sell homegrown goodies, as some suggest, but to make the system so cumbersome that small producers will say forget it and give up their local food business — which is what many, including yours truly, have speculated is the hidden corporate agenda of the bill.
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