Mountain Xpress: Senator Hagan visits small farmers at French Broad Co-Op Farmers Market

Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) took an hour or so Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 8, to visit with small farmers at the French Broad Food Co-op Farmer’s Market, at least partly in an attempt to reassure them that proposed legislation to tighten food safety standards will not affect them detrimentally, as some first feared.

Last year’s food-safety scares — involving contaminated peanut products, spinach, peppers, and more — led to what some observers felt was an overzealous response by the federal government to tighten regulations and traceability of food products in the event of contamination and the need for a recall.

Sen. Hagan is cosponsoring an amendment by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) to Senate Bill 510, the proposed Food Safety Modernization Act, which would exclude small producers — those farms earning less than $500,000 per year — thus relieving them of what many say would be an unsustainable burden of record keeping and administration. The amendment would also exclude producers who sell their food directly to consumers or restaurants (i.e., at farmers’ markets).

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