The House approved food safety legislation this week that will dramatically expand Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority over all aspects of the food system, but largely exempts grain operations from overly broad records access and traceability standards.
H.R. 2749 passed by a 283 to 142 vote on Thursday after failing to pass under suspension of the rules – which requires a two-thirds majority – just one day before.
The bill grants the FDA authority to oversee everything from food production and processing, to distribution and retail, and to ensure that imported food meets U.S. safety standards.
NAWG and coalition partners have been advocating for changes to the bill to ease the potential burden on grain farm operations, which pose extremely low risk to the health of the food system. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) was instrumental in pressing his Democratic colleagues, specifically House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), to include language appropriate to individual agricultural production sectors, including grains.
NAWG and other representatives of commodity producers wrote Peterson Thursday thanking him for his efforts, saying, “Though we recognize that there may be some outstanding issues remaining as the legislative process continues, we wish to recognize that your work, and that of your staff, was instrumental in easing our concerns and removing our objections to passage…”
More information about the bill and NAWG’s work in this area, including the letter to Peterson, are available online at www.wheatworld.org/issues/foodsafety
Editor’s Note: This story was written in conjunction with Karoline Kastanek, communications intern at U.S. Wheat Associates, who visited the NAWG offices this week.