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Food Safety Modernization Act: What Do You Think?

Three tractors in a field on a stormy day.

Will S. 510 mean the end of backyard gardens and small farms, or will it force industrial agriculture to clean up its act?

The Senate vote on S. 510, the Food Safety Modernization Act, is imminent, and opinions on the bill seem to vary widely. Some are calling the act the end of small, organic farms, seed saving, and backyard gardening. Others say it’s a critical measure to ensure that consumer food is safe in a world of factory farming.

Back in August, Heather Carr wrote here on Eat Drink Better about the bill and addressed the issue of small farms:

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act was held up in the Senate while the effects on small farms, organic farms, farmers market, and the like were being determined. The aim of the bill is to clean up factory farms. With the consolidation of the food supply, only a few companies control most of our food. One company taking a few shortcuts can sicken thousands of people. The record-keeping and inspection schedules required by the bill, while necessary in the day-to-day operations of a large corporation, would prove onerous to a small family business.

A manager’s amendment was recently added to protect small farms (pdf alert). An exemption has been added for small food businesses. Basically, if a business (farm, restaurant, roadside stand, etc.) did not have to register under the Bioterrorism Act of 2002 as a food facility, then the business will not be affected by this bill.

The folks at Natural News definitely don’t agree, calling the bill a “tyrannical law” that:

puts all food production (yes, even food produced in your own garden) under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security. Yep — the very same people running the TSA and its naked body scanner / passenger groping programs.

Over at GovTrack, you can take a peek at who supports and opposes the bill, which I thought was pretty interesting as well. There are organizations that I do and don’t trust on both sides of this bill, which confounds the issue even more.

So what do you guys think? Is the Food Safety Modernization Act on the level, or will it trample our food freedom?

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by mike138

18 comments
  1. Jennifer

    While I can’t comment on the specifics of the bill I do think that there are certain practices that all farms should follow : water testing, hygiene training for workers, access to restrooms with handwash water, soap, and towels (you would be surprised at how often this is lacking ). This will be important for small farms as schools make a move to source local produce. The last thing any farmer wants is to put their customers in danger.

  2. Martha

    Ridiculous…the more the government can control what we do, as backyard gardeners, or choosing to buy from a local organic farmer…they are taking away our FREEDOM…we should be able to make educated choices!

    They make it sound like it’s just going to make our food better and ensure our health…ha!!! Not fooling me.

  3. Sandy

    “Will S. 510 mean the end of backyard gardens and small farms, or will it force industrial agriculture to clean up its act?”

    Without the Tester-Hagan Amendment, the answer to that is BOTH.

    With the Tester-Hagan Amendment, it’s still not good, but at least it saves the little guys unless they become more successful and start to make more money.

    Call your Senator and ask them to support the Tester-Hagan Amendment, at least. Do this asap, as they are currently voting on it.

  4. hEATHER

    NO ONE will tell me I can or can’t grow my own Garden.
    Our Government has gone too far and needs to throttle back on having their hands in every little thing.
    Why can’t they just leave some stuff alone!

  5. Rusty

    I hope this does not make it through but It looks like it will. The Managers Admendment may be the only thing that will save the small farmer.

  6. Wenchypoo

    Well, they got control over GM, the banking industry, the student loan industry, so why not the food supply too? Most seeds last a minimum of 2 years, so I advise you to stock up now before this bill becomes law. Broccoli seeds last 5 years.

    Pray to god this doesn’t pass. If it does, then you got a seed purchase warning from me ahead of time, and maybe it will get repealed (along with HCR) in 2013. Let’s hope.

  7. Mikel

    I’m sure there are better ways to improve the system. This smells like nothing more than a battle for market share. The BIG food companies, who may have to spend more money to be bill-compliant, seem to actually be the bills biggest supporters??? Does that make sense? Not unless there’s a bigger prize.

  8. Cliff

    Well, let’s see, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid said that Obamacare contained nothing about the “death panels”, and now it’s frontpage news everywhere ya look. Then the democrats said they were going to eradicate pork spending, and yet the s-510 bill contained billions of dollars of the squealing rhetoric! And under the ammendments made to the bill that passed on 12/21/2010 under Title I, it makes it perfectly clear that even the backyard garden is in danger of being expunged and tossed by the wayside! When will americans wake up and take their country back? Once Cap-N-Trade is passed, it’s game over, and that’s getting ready to happen when the feds bail out California!

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