WASHINGTON – National Cattlemen’s Beef Association officials expressed disappointment after the US Senate voted to move forward with the Food Safety Modernization Act, S. 510. NCBA opposes an amendment offered by Senators John Tester (D-Mont.) and Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) exempting small food producers and processors that is included in the legislation and urges Senators to oppose final passage. Basing exemptions on size, location and proximity to the markets does not make food safer, said Kristina Butts, NCBA’s executive director of legislative affairs.

“Cattle producers across the country are committed to producing the safest and highest quality beef in the world,” Butts said. “In fact, NCBA supports improvements to our nation’s food safety system that are based on sound science, focused on industry application and have a strong research foundation. Unfortunately, the Senate has lost sight of the fact that food safety knows no size by attaching the Tester/Hagan amendment to this legislation.”

The Tester/Hagan amendment would exempt producers whose annual sales are less than $500,000 and who are not more than 275 miles away from the end-user, be it a consumer, restaurant or a distribution facility.

NCBA plus more than 20 organizations representing food and agricultural producers banded together and sent a letter to US Senators urging them to reject the Tester/Hagan amendment.

“Consumers should be able to rely on a federal food-safety framework that sets appropriate standards for all products in the marketplace, no matter the size of the producing entity,” the letter stated.

“The beef industry will always make food safety a priority, investing in technologies and techniques to ensure a safe product for consumers,” Butts said. “But the Tester amendment weakens S. 510 and leaves consumers vulnerable. No matter the size – from smallest to the very largest – everyone involved in food production should be responsible for delivering consumers a safe product.”