Ag Hearing Looks at Food Safety in Light of Pending Bill

July 17, 2009 Bookmark and Share

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) said at a hearing this week that he would seek to hold up a pending food safety bill if burdensome regulations affecting on-farm production are not changed.

Peterson called the hearing of his Committee focusing on food safety issues after NAWG and other agricultural groups raised serious concerns about H.R. 2749, a bill approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee in June that would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) broad new authority to regulate the food system.

The House Agriculture Committee was not given a referral to examine the bill, but Peterson has indicated he will still seek to hold a markup and report the bill unfavorably if it is not modified. He was set to meet Friday with Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and food safety proponent Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) to discuss the issue.

Among other things, the bill would require FDA to set standards for safe growing, harvesting and storing of raw agriculture commodities, including broadening FDA’s authority to come on farm. The bill would also place additional recordkeeping requirements on agricultural operations and give FDA access to records generally considered confidential without provisions to hold the Agency accountable in cases of misuse.

Witnesses at this week’s hearing included representatives from general farm organizations, commodity groups, the organic sector, USDA and FDA.

NAWG and other agriculture groups have been working to address this issue for a number of weeks with staff from the Energy and Commerce and Agriculture Committees. NAWG has also signed onto a number of coalition letters outlining specific concerns, all available online at www.wheatworld.org/issues/foodsafety.

More on this week’s hearing is at http://agriculture.house.gov/hearings/statements.html