House Passes Food Safety Bill

The House passed the Food Safety Enhancement Act (H.R. 2749) Thursday on a mostly party line vote of 283-142. The Senate must now act on the House bill or take up a food safety bill of its own; the American Farm Bureau Federation expects the Senate will use S. 510 introduced by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) as its legislative vehicle rather than the House bill.

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) was successful in obtaining exemptions from most of the bill’s provisions for farms. The Agriculture Department will continue to regulate feed grain farms and livestock and poultry operations, rather than FDA.

AFBF continues to remain neutral on the House bill. While improvements have been made, AFBF believes some outstanding issues remain to be resolved. For example, AFBF is still concerned about the impact of the legislation on growers of fruits and vegetables.

“There are problems at the FDA that need to be fixed, but we don’t need to create a whole new system,” said Kelli Ludlum, AFBF director of congressional relations, in an interview with the Des Moines Register.

There is no timeline for Senate action, but both Durbin and the bipartisan leadership of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee have indicated they intend to complete healthcare reform before beginning consideration of any food safety measure.


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