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By Tim Leeds 

Tester to FDA: Protect small, family farmers

Senator says agency ignoring intent of his 2011 law


November 18, 2013

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester is calling out the federal Food and Drug Administration, saying the agency is ignoring the intent of a law he passed in 2011 to protect small farms that market product locally.

Tester said in a press release that FDA drafts of policies could force farmers with less than $500,000 gross annual sales who primarily market locally to use the same requirements as large corporations.

Tester amended a bill in 2011 to ensure that the smaller operations didn’t have to follow all of the same requirements.

“Small growers and producers selling straight to local consumers don’t require the same regulations that large producers do, and Congress passed a law making that clear,” Tester said in the release. “It’s outrageous for the FDA to ignore my common-sense law. The agency needs to change course before they hurt the livelihoods and jobs of Montana’s family farmers and producers.”

The release said the proposed FDA rules could force smaller producers to conduct the same water quality tests as large producers, prevent small farmers from selling their products at farmers markets and treat groups of small farms like large corporations.

“We need more small farms and facilities, not fewer, and these proposed rules must not stymie local economic growth,” Tester said in a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. “I urge you to rectify the rules to ensure that small farms, farmers’ markets and local cooperatives are able to thrive while protecting food safety from the biggest threats.”

Tester also met with FDA Deputy Commissioner Mike Taylor last week to share his concerns about the rules.

Tester also had issues last week with a U.S. Department of Agriculture proposal.

A Friday release said Tester sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack about a proposal to speed up meat inspection in the largest meat processing plants.


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