Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Tester amendment included in final food safety bill; vote expected after Thanksgiving

Supporters of the sweeping food-safety bill now before the Senate have accepted amendments proposed by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., that exempt small farmers from the proposed regulations.

The Senate is expected to vote on the Food Safety Modernization Act after it returns from Thanksgiving break on Nov. 29.

The bill, S.510, gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration broader authority to issue recalls on tainted food and more oversight of farms and food processors where food-borne illnesses originate. The U.S. House of Representatives has already passed a version of the bill, but the Senate has been slower in approving the measure meant to curb outbreaks of food-borne illness in the United States.

Since the spring, Tester has pushed an amendment that would exempt food producers who have less that $500,000 in annual sales and sell their products directly to customers within 400 miles or within their state. Tester argued his amendments were necessary to prevent the bill from inadvertently crushing the local food movement.

On Thursday, Tester’s office announced that a compromise had been accepted by bill sponsors. The final language reduces the mileage component of the amendment to 275 miles and allows the FDA to end a small farm’s exemption if it is linked to a food-borne illness outbreak.

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