The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will heap unnecessary and expensive regulation on small food processors. FSMA is a federal law that passed Congress in 2011. The law directed the US Food and Drug Administration to write regulations that will require food processing facilities to engage in expensive, and time consuming practices.
Food processing facilities include cheese makers, coffee roasters, produce distribution companies and many more. The Food and Drug Administration estimates that it will cost very small food processing companies about $31,000 to comply with FSMA.
“[FDA] concludes that the proposed rule will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities… The regulatory costs of this proposed rule may discourage at least some new small businesses from entering the industry.”
This is bad news for the growing local food economy. But there is hope! Thanks to advocacy by CFSA and other organizations that represent small food processors, Congress gave states permission to regulate very small food processors using their own food safety regulations.
The South Carolina General Assembly is currently considering Senate Bill 284, which would allow South Carolina to regulate small food processing businesses using existing laws that are working for food processing businesses and consumers.
The Current Situation
May 26, 2016
Senate Bill 284 is stalled in the House Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry. As the legislative session’s end draws near, we need folks to take action NOW to make sure that very small food businesses continue to thrive in South Carolina.
March 8, 2016
The Senate voted unanimously in favor of the bill on March 3, 2016. Thank you to everyone who called to encourage their Senator’s support!
On March 8, 2016, the House referred the bill to the
Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry. If your Representative serves on this committee, please call him or her and encourage passage of Senate Bill 284.
February 26, 2016
On February 25, the Senate Agriculture Committee voted to pass an amended version of Senate Bill 284. CFSA strongly supports the bill. Up next, the bill must be voted on by the full Senate.
February 20, 2015
On February 19, CFSA Executive Director, Roland McReynolds, testified before a subcommittee of the South Carolina Senate Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee. Roland educated members of the subcommittee about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and Senate Bill 284 (S.284).
S.284 will allow very small food processing facilities to avoid needless FSMA paperwork. If S.284 becomes law, food-makers with less than $1 million food sales per year will save an average of $31,000 in compliance costs annually.
The bill, introduced by Ag Committee chair Danny Verdin of Laurens County, would allow these small businesses to continue to be regulated under SC’s existing, pre-FSMA, food safety rules. The US Congress expressly authorized states to provide FSMA alternatives for small business. S.284 will permit small food businesses to continue operating under existing regulations rather than under industrial-scale practices required by FSMA. Passage of S.284 will make SC a national leader in supporting local food.
The members of the Senate Ag subcommittee recognized the need for the bill, and unanimously approved it for consideration by the full Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee. The full committee hearing is scheduled for March 12.
May 26, 2016
Please call Representative Sandifer today. He chairs the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee, where Senate Bill 284 is currently stalled. When you call, if you are not able to speak to him directly, leave a message with a staff member or on the voicemail urging him to support Senate Bill 284 and schedule it for a hearing in his committee. Representative Sandifer’s phone number is 803-734-3075.
When you call or email you may use this outline:
- Introduce yourself (first and last name) and explain that you are a resident of South Carolina (if you are a farmer or operate a small food processing business, be sure to mention that!).
- Explain that you are calling or emailing because you support Senate Bill 284, that the Senate voted unanimously in favor of the bill back in March, and that you hope Representative Sandifer will ensure the bill is considered by the Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry as soon as possible.
- Explain that you support Senate Bill 284 because (use one or more of the following reasons, or come up with your own):
- You think that small food businesses should be subject to reasonable regulation, not the expensive and time-consuming regulations that will be imposed by the federal government if SC doesn’t do something;
- Small food businesses an important part of vibrant local economies, and expensive regulation that could put them out of business is bad for the state.
- Small, SC -based food processors are making safe food now. Subjecting those businesses to the Food Safety Modernization Act’s requirements–which are designed for very large businesses–will not make our food any safer, it’ll just make it less likely that we will have any small, local businesses to buy from.
- Say, “thank you.”
If you feel nervous about making a phone call, watch CFSA’s “How To Call Your Representative” video to learn how easy it can be to call your elected officials.
Read the letter that CFSA and other organizations that support local food businesses sent to members of the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee in May 2016.
Read Roland’s S284 Presentation to the Senate Ag Subcommittee to learn more about this important policy.