Food Safety Bill Nears Passage

Aaron Flint posted on November 18, 2010 14:03 :: 945 Views

Montana farmers and ranchers may not know what the estate tax will be at the end of the year, but it seems one thing they can expect is an increase in regulations on their industry. 

This, as a food safety bill is nearing passage on Capitol Hill. 

Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) says his amendment exempting small farms from the new regulations appears to have gotten support of the bills sponsor. 

“We deal with consolidation in our energy sector, we deal with consolidation in our banking sector,” Tester said.  “We have consolidation in our food industry too. The fact is we need to not encourage that consolidation.  I think if we can get more locally grown food—if we can get producers to connect up the consumers eyeball to eyeball—that’s a positive thing.  And I don’t want to diminish their ability to do this.”

Tester added that his farm does not qualify for the exemption because he doesn’t sell grain directly to consumers- so, there’s a chance your farm doesn’t qualify either. 

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle added this:

On Wednesday, the Senate voted to proceed with the bill after Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., sought to kill it because he said the $1.4 billion cost isn’t paid for, according to the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, the Bozeman-based think tank PERC is discussing the issue on their blog this week, where one small beef producer takes aim at the food safety bill.

Judith McGeary, founder and executive director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, doesn’t get it. At Grist, she writes that under the Tester-Hagan amendment,  “producers who fall within [the Tester-Hagan amendment] will remain subject to all existing federal food safety laws and state and local regulation.”  The existing regulations are incredibly burdensome to small producers and conceding that they are effective gives them credit they do not deserve.

When will people wake up and smell the smoke from the burning homestead?  If we don’t stand up to the overreaching of the federal government, all of our family-owned ranches and farms, small abattoirs, and processing facilities will be lost because they cannot compete with the large corporations who have economies of scale to “comply” with government regulations and fees.

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