For the past few weeks, rightwing radio talk show host Aaron Flint has been trying to harpoon the Food Safety Modernization Act. Not sure what his problem with safe food might be. This is the bill that sailed through the Senate Sunday with unanimous support. I guess Mr. Flint is against it because it includes a very good amendment in it by Senator Jon Tester, and it’s hard for a rightwinger to give credit where credit is due.
Tester’s amendment exempts family produce farms and food producers from what would be very expensive new federal regulations that are needed for the big food factories and huge growing operations that ship thousands of bags of lettuce to half the states in the union in a matter of hours… the companies responsible for our nation’s food-borne illness problems.
Under Mr. Flint’s rationale, since the exemption doesn’t apply to Tester’s own farm, then “there’s a chance your farm doesn’t qualify either.” Aaron Flint sounds like he’s against the Tester Amendment because “the typical family farm in Montana would not be exempt from the new regulations.“
Now I’m no farmer, but even I know that “typical family farm” in Montana probably wouldn’t even be subject to the new Food Safety Act regulations in the first place. It makes me wonder if the talking heads over at Northern News Network even read the bill.
The Food Safety Act applies to those who grow produce or make processed food. The majority of Montana farmers grow grain (like Tester) and sugar beets. The last time I checked, grain and sugar beets weren’t the cause of America’s food safety problems, rather things like tomatoes, bagged lettuces and whatnot. Ranchers won’t be impacted either because this bill doesn’t even deal with meat.
But, if you grow produce or process food in Montana, then chances are you make less than $500,000 per year in sales and you sell directly to the marketplace. If Aaron Flint had actually read the bill, he’d see that’s exactly who the Tester exempts.