Food Safety Bills: HR 875 and S 425

ESP hopes to provide meaningful information about a potential threat to our ability to grow our own, healthful food, or to obtain Organic foods:  the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009.  This bill is currently under consideration in the House as HR 875, and the Senate as S 425.

We have received email input from our ESP community concerning this issue, which we include for your enlightenment.  Please feel free to submit comments to this post for further discussion (scroll to bottom for comment section). 

Learn More:

Read the full text of each bill on the website (click on the “Full Text” link on each of these pages):

See also interesting articles from BrasscheckTV and  Mercola.  The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) has several articles on this subject; for example:

To Contact our Legislators and Other Elected Officials:

It’s best to use email; or fax your letters instead of mailing them, because Congressional mail security screening can delay postal letters by 1-3 weeks, particularly during security alerts.

You can find contact information for elected officials:
  • US Senators, by state: 
  • US Representatives, by state:  
  • US Governors, by state:
  • White House Comments Desk:  Phone 202-456-1111; Fax: 202-456-2461 

NOTE:  Senator Jon Tester is an Organic farmer from Montana

Other ways you can voice your opinion

  • Write letters to the editor
  • Speak with your wallet, by supporting businesses you believe in.  If you want to support local food producers, refer to the Farm Hands Map (Flathead Valley) to find many of them.

Letters to ESP from our community, on this issue

Click on the links to read individual letters in pdf format.

Shelli Riedesel on HR 875

Shelli and Wade operate a sustainable (non-certified Organic) blueberry and cherry orchard in Yellow Bay (the former Yellow Bay Store property).


Brenda Woolhouse on HR 875

Brenda grows vegetables which she sells at the Farmers’ Market.  She writes an introduction, and follows that with the letter, in which she quotes sections of the bill and comments on them.

Steve Combes on HR 875

Steve did not supply a letter to our legislators, only comments.

4 Responses to “Food Safety Bills: HR 875 and S 425”

  1. Catherine says:

    Stephanie Pointer sent a letter to Max Baucus and Jon Tester about the Senate version of the bill; here’s Max’s response (see below for Tester’s):

    “Dear Stephanie:

    Thank you for contacting me about food safety. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue. With daily news reports of tainted meats and produce in our food supply, this is an issue of utmost importance.

    As you know, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is charged with regulating food safety, as well as the safety of drugs, vaccines and medical devices. Currently, only one percent of foreign food is inspected by the FDA when it comes into our country. Legislative work still needs to be done. In some cases, we need only to enforce the laws that are already in place. In other situations, we must improve upon the system.

    I understand that there has been considerable concern among the organic farming community over the intent behind one such piece of legislation, The Food Safety and Tracking Improvement Act (S. 425/H. 875). Introduced in the Senate by Senator Brown ofOhio, this legislation would instruct the Food and Drug Administration to establish a mechanism for national trace-back in the case of a food recall. It keeps current exemptions for farms and restaurants in place, and is not intended to create additional barriers to organic and family farmers. While improving our food traceability system is important to me, I am not interested in creating new and uncalled-for requirements for any farmers. I appreciate your concern on this important issue. You can rest assured that I will keep your thoughts in mind if this legislation or others like it come before me in the full Senate or in the Agriculture Committee.

    Montanans have a tradition of bringing the highest quality agricultural goods to market, and I will work hard to maintain this tradition. I believe that the appropriate labeling of food can be an effective tool to ensure consumer safety and awareness. Labels should be clear and concise.

    In a time where food safety is of the utmost importance, accurate labeling will inform consumers and hold producers accountable. That is why I pushed for country-of-origin labeling for food in the recent Farm Bill, and continue to press for its proper implementation.

    Thank you again for taking the time to share your thoughts and opinions with me. It’s always great to hear from folks back home. If you have any further questions about this matter or about anything else of importance to you, please feel free to contact me.

    With best personal regards, I am

    Senator Max Baucus “

  2. Catherine says:

    Here is my opinion, concerning Sen. Baucus’ response quoted above:

    In my opinion, he’s being as vague as the language in the bill. For example:

    — The bill defines a food production facility in section 3, “Definitions” as “any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation.” The use of the word ‘any’ is very open-ended, and allows just about anything to be included, such as home gardeners and organic producers.

    — And Baucus says “[the act] is not intended to create additional barriers to organic and family farmers.” It’s the ‘not intended’ that is open-ended here; that is, just because the intent is thus and so, doesn’t mean someone couldn’t argue a different meaning than the original intent. This is done all the time when interpreting the constitution.

    So, like most politicians, he’s not declaring his stance, but could be waiting to see what he can get in exchange for his vote.

    Tester is typically more forthcoming; it will be interesting to see what response he gives.

  3. Catherine says:

    And here’s the response from Jon Tester, to Stephanie’s letter:

    Dear Stephanie:

    Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about food safety legislation currently before Congress.

    I believe in strong food safety protections. Recent failures such as meat recalls and salmonella contamination in peanut products call attention to the pressing need for improved oversight of food processing plants.

    However, some of the record-keeping and product-tracking provisions proposed in recent legislation would create undue burdens on Montana family farmers and ranchers without improving food safety. What works for a large corporate farm somewhere else may not make sense for a small organic producer in Montana.

    I will continue to work hard with my Senate colleagues to make sure consumers are protected by strong food safety standards, from production to processing to consumption. As food safety legislation comes before the Senate, be assured that I will keep your views in mind. Please do not hesitate to contact me again if I can be of further assistance.


    Jon Tester

  4. […] me, this offers a far better solution to the problem than the Food Safety billsbeing considered by our […]