A federal bill, S. 510, regulates food safety in the United States. Many consumers of organic and raw food are concerned about this new law since it establishes many new federal regulations. The Tester amendment, a proposal by the Montana Democratic Senator Jon Tester, exempts small farmers from many of the new requirements.
S. 510 creates additional costs for the federal government. According to Oklahoma Republican Senator Tom Coburn, this new bill will cost taxpayers $1.4 billion in direct costs over the next five years. Farmers will also pay an additional $230 million in federal fees over the next five years, which will be passed on to food buyers.
S. 510 requires all farmers to register their farms with the federal government. According to Harrisburg University, businesses involved with food must register with the Federal Department of Agriculture, and renew this registration twice each year.
Senator Tester’s amendment exempts very small businesses, such as family farms, from the S. 510 requirements. A separate definition for a very small business is necessary, since the federal definition of a small business can include large companies that consumers would not recognize as a small business. According to the Tester amendment, the definition of a very small food processing facility is less than $500,000 in annual food sales. The Tester amendment includes an inflation adjustment clause that will protect family farms in the future.
The exemption for a very small business also applies to food end users. An end user includes smaller grocery stores and restaurants that do not reach the sales threshold of $500,000 a year. End users are also subject to the S.510 provisions because they sell food to the public.
S. 510 also establishes federal labeling requirements for all food sold in the United States. The Tester amendment exempts very small food facilities from the labeling requirement. The Tester amendment does require these family farms and businesses to clearly place their name and address on the food package in exchange for this exemption.