Published on: April 12, 2010The Wall Street Journal reports that the small farmer community continues to have issues with the food safety bill that is expected to garner bipartisan support from the US Congress and be signed by President Barack Obama by next month. Their complaint, according to the story, is that the new fees and requirements that will be established by the new law will create a financial burden on them that will threaten their viability.
The small farmers argue that the bill should be tailored so that the requirements are less onerous for small companies; big companies maintain that all companies - regardless of size - should be required to play by the same rules. Which ends up creating the impression that big food companies actually could use the new food safety regulations to crush their smaller competition.
According to the Journal, “Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D., Conn.), a longtime advocate of tougher food-safety laws, said the legislation already addresses smaller producers' concerns. For instance, farms selling products directly to consumers from a fruit stand or farmers market would be exempt from some fees and requirements.”
- KC's View:
- This is a tough one. There are those that say that the new food safety regulations could actually put a crimp in the burgeoning local food movement, making it much more expensive - perhaps prohibitively so - for local farmers to provide product to local stores. This would be a shame.
On the other hand, it is hard to justify allowing small farmers to have fewer regulations when it comes to food safety. If food is contaminated, it doesn’t matter to the consumer what kind of farm the product came from - I get just as sick if I eat tainted lettuce from a small farm as a giant agri-business.
I have to come down on the side of food safety. But I would urge the government to find ways to help the small farmers navigate the higher costs with minimum effect. Not sure what the answer is, but there must be an innovative way to approach this that would be good for both consumers and small farmers.