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Farmers Union Testifies on Food Safety

US - In a testimony before the House Agriculture Committee yesterday, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union President Kent Peppler told members to maintain focus on off-farm processing and imported food items when debating how to address food safety.

Mr Peppler’s testimony cited the recent JBS-Swift Beef Company recall of 380,000 pounds of assorted beef products that may have been contaminated with E.coli 0157:H7 as an unwelcome reminder that the time to act on food safety is now.

"I urge you to not get distracted during this debate by those who argue that it is the farmers who are the problem. Farmers are the first line of defense on addressing food safety issues and I would argue we have done a heck of a job," Mr Peppler said.

Mr Peppler said placing additional unnecessary, onerous, costly and burdensome regulations onto farmers will not improve food safety. He cited concerns, specifically for small scale producers and processors, with proposed legislation.

"Any food safety legislation must recognize implications for farmers and their ability to continue to provide an affordable, safe and abundant food supply. Our farmers are the best in the world and Congress needs to ensure the focus remains on the core food safety issues, not individual farmers," Mr Peppler said.

"We need to be serious about addressing the flood of imported food items coming into this country. The Food and Drug Administration inspects just one per cent of those items, many of which coming from places around the globe that either have no food safety standards or standards in name only. American consumers and American farmers deserve better," Mr Peppler said.

NFU policy calls for a single food agency to oversee the US food system as a whole, including imported products; and mandatory recall authority.

the Fish Site Editor

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