The big news this week comes from our nation’s capital, where the Senate voted 73 to 25 in favor of Senate Bill S510, the first comprehensive food safety reform in this country in nearly 30 years. While the final language of the Food Modernization Act is still subject to the reconciliation process, it is expected that a bill will be on the president’s desk for his signature before the end of the year.
In the end, the Senate did a good job of balancing the need for increased regulation while preserving the viability of small farms and consumer choice. At odds was the issue of size: Is a one-size-fits-all approach sensible when it comes to regulation? Are larger farms somehow more responsible or susceptible to incidences of food contamination and the spread of foodborne illnesses?
The truth remains that there exists a risk no matter where you get your food. Through more effective regulation of large farms (those responsible for sickening hundreds or thousands at a time) and the preservation of consumer choice at local markets, the Senate has done a good job of balancing the need for greater food safety assurances and the competing interests of big ag and small farms.