"Industrial" ag takes it on the chin: Sen. Kay Hagan in food safety debate - The Packer

"Industrial" ag takes it on the chin: Sen. Kay Hagan in food safety debate

11/18/2010 04:45:26 PM
Tom Karst

More from the Senate food safety debate, with closed caption script borrowed from the C-Span web site. Here, Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., speaks this morning on the Tester-Hagan amendment. "Industrial" ag takes it on the chin again.....

Sen. Kay Hagan:

02:56:29 THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT.
02:56:30 I SEE MY COLLEAGUE, SENATOR BURRIS, STILL ON THE FLOOR AND I JUST WANT TO THANK YOU FOR YOUR EXCELLENT WORK AND YOUR COMMENTS TODAY, AND YOU WILL CERTAINLY BE MISSED BY ALL OF US.
02:56:41 MR. PRESIDENT, TODAY I RISE IN SUPPORT OF SENATE BILL 510, THE FOOD FOOD FOOD SAFETY MODERNIZATION ACT AND -- THE F.D.A. FOOD SAFETY MODERNIZATION ACT, AND ALSO AN AMENDMENT THAT I COSPONSORED WITH MY COLLEAGUE FROM INDIANA, SENATOR JOHN -- JOHN TESTER.
02:56:57 SENATOR FROM MONTANA, SENATOR EACH YEAR, UP TO 70 MILLION AMERICANS ARE SICKENED FROM FOODBORNE ILLNESSES.
02:57:03 THOUSANDS OF THE MOST VULNERABLE, INCLUDING CHILDREN AND THE ELDERLY, DIE.
02:57:07 I DON'T THINK THERE'S ANYONE WHO HASN'T HEARD OF THE MASSIVE RECALL OF MILLIONS OF TAINTED EGGS THAT SICKENED NEARLY 1,500 PEOPLE.
02:57:15 WE NEED TO FIND A BETTER WAY TO PROTECT AMERICANS FROM THESE AND DURING THE "HELP" TRAGIC DEATHS.
02:57:20 COMMITTEE'S CONSIDERATION OF THIS BILL LATE LAST YEAR, WE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO HEAR FROM DAN REAGAN, DIRECTOR OF THE NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND CONSUMER SERVICES FOOD AND DRUG PROTECTION DIVISION, ABOUT THE INNOVATIVE STEPS THAT NORTH CAROLINA IS TAKING TO PREVENT AND ADDRESS FOOD SAFETY PROBLEMS PROBLEMS.
02:57:41 NORTH CAROLINA WAS ONE OF THE FIRST PILOT STATES FOR THE MANUFACTURED FOOD REGULATORY PROGRAM STANDARDS, AND NORTH CAROLINA HAS A ROBUST TRAINING PROGRAM FOR THOSE PEOPLE DEALING WITH FOOD SAFETY ISSUES.
02:57:54 AND I AM PROUD THAT NORTH CAROLINA IS LEADING THE WAY FORWARD IN TRYING TO PREVENT AND QUICKLY ADDRESS FOODBORNE ILLNESSES.
02:58:03 AT THE SAME TIME, NORTH CAROLINA IS A FARMING STATE, AND IN MY STATE, WE HAVE HONEST FARMERS WHO WORK VERY HARD TO MAKE A LIVING.
02:58:12 UNFORTUNATELY, OFTENTIMES WHEN THERE IS A FOOD SAFETY BREACH FOLLOWED BY A MASSIVE RECALL, THE PRODUCERS OR FARMERS SUFFER DIRE FINANCIAL CONSEQUENCES.
02:58:23 FARMERS ARE AT THE FRONT OF THE FOOD SUPPLY CHAIN AND FREQUENTLY ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FOOD SAFETY BREACH FURTHER ON DOWN THE LINE.
02:58:31 MANY FARMERS IN NORTH CAROLINA ARE STILL STRUGGLING, PARTICULARLY AFTER THE SALMONELLA OUTBREAK AT THE PEANUT CORPORATION OF AMERICA AND AFTER THE MASSIVE RECALL OF TOMATOES NATIONWIDE IN 2008.
02:58:45 ONE SUCH FARM IS THE PATTERSON FARM, A THIRD-GENERATION FAMILY CAROLINA.
02:58:50 FARM IN CHINA GROVE, NORTH THIS FAMILY HAS BEEN GROWING TOMATOES SINCE 1919, WHEN JAMES A. PATTERSON BEGAN GROWING VEGETABLES.
02:58:59 CURRENTLY, PATTERSON FARMS INC., OPERATED BY JAMES PATTERSON'S GRANDSONS, DOUG AND RANDALL, GROWS ABOUT 350 ACRES OF TOMATOES, INCLUDING MATURE GREEN, VINE RIPE AND ROMA TOMATOES.
02:59:11 IN ADDITION TO GROWING TOMATOES, THE PATTERSONS GRADE, PACK AND SHIP THEIR TOMATOES ACROSS THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA.
02:59:19 PATTERSON FARMS IS CURRENTLY THE LARGEST TOMATO GROWER IN THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, BUT THE 2008 ERRONEOUS SAFETY CITATION FOR TOMATOES BY THE F.D.A. COST THIS FAMILY AND THIS FARM DEARLY DEARLY.
02:59:32 TOMATOES -- WHILE CONSUMER DEMACHINED FOR DEMAND FOR TOMATOES DROPPED BETWEEN 50% AND 60%, PATTERSON FARMS LOST HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS.
02:59:41 THE DAMAGE WAS SO SEVERE THAT DOUG AND RANDALL COULD NOT PAY BACK THEIR FARM OPERATING LOAN AT THE END OF THE YEAR, MAKING THAT THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORY OF PATTERSON FARMS THAT THEY WERE NOT ABLE TO PAY THEIR OPERATING LOAN BACK.
02:59:54 IN FACT, THEY HAD TO BORROW MORE BUSINESS.
02:59:58 MONEY JUST TO STAY IN WITH VERY NARROW PROFIT MARGINS, A MASSIVE RECALL LIKE THIS CAN JEOPARDIZE THE FINANCIAL STABILITY OF FARMS THAT HAVE BEEN IN THE FAMILY FOR GENERATIONS.
03:00:08 THAT'S WHY I THINK THE F.D.A.
03:00:11 NEEDS TO BE VERY SURE ABOUT THE SOURCE OF A FOOD-BOURNE ILLNESS WHEN IT INSTITUTE A RECALL, AND WHY I FOUGHT HARD TO INCLUDE A PROVISION TO LOOK AT NEW AND EXISTING MECHANISMS AVAILABLE TO PROVIDE RESTITUTION.
03:00:26 SPECIFICALLY THE LANGUAGE IN THIS BILL DIRECTS THE G.A.O. TO CONDUCT A REVIEW ON NEW AND EXISTING MECHANISMS AVAILABLE TO PROVIDE RESTITUTION IN THE EVENT OF AN ERRONEOUS MANDATORY FOOD SAFETY RECALL.
03:00:42 IF SUCH MECHANISMS DO NOT EXIST OR ARE INADEQUATE, WITHIN 90 DAYS.
03:00:46 THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE MUST CONDUCT A FEASIBILITY STUDY ON IMPLEMENTING A RESTITUTION PROGRAM.
03:00:54 ONCE FALSE RECALL COULD PUT A FAMILY FARM OUT OF BUSINESS.
03:00:57 AND WHILE I SUPPORT GIVING F.D.A. MANDATORY RECALL AUTHORITY, I WANT TO MAKE SURE THERE ARE A ENOUGH PROTECTIONS IN PLACE FOR FARMS, SUCH AS THE PATTERSON FARM, WHICH ARE BROUGHT TO THE BRINK OF BANKRUPTCY THROUGH NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN.
03:01:15 THIS IS AN IMPORTANT FIRST STEP IN ENSURING THAT FARMERS ARE TREATED FAIRLY.
03:01:20 I'M PLEASED TO BE A COSPONSOR OF THE AMENDMENT BY MY COLLEAGUE, SENATOR TESTER, WHICH WILL BE INCLUDED IN THE FINAL BILL.
03:01:27 WHILE I BELIEVE STRENGTHENING OUR FOOD SAFETY STANDARDS AND GIVING THE F.D.A. THE ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITY IT NEEDS IS CRITICAL TO ENSURING PUBLIC SAFETY, THIS BILL WOULD HAVE IMPOSED FEDERAL REGULATION ON EVEN THE SMALLEST FOOD PRODUCER INCLUDING FAMILIES FARMS.
03:01:45 TAKE A SMALL FAMILY FARM IN NORTH CAROLINA THAT PRODUCES HOME MADE JAMS AND AND JELLIES.
03:01:55 THIS WOULD HAVE HAD TO REGISTER WITH THE F.D.A. AND HAVE A RISK-BASED PREVENTIVE CONTROL PLAN SIMILAR TO THE PLANS COMPANIES.
03:02:04 REQUIRED OF LARGE FOOD SMALL PRODUCERS IN NORTH CAROLINA ALREADY HAVE TO USE A NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE APPROVED COMMERCIAL KITCHEN TO MAKE THESE PRODUCTS.
03:02:16 TO ALLOW SMALL PRODUCERS TO REMAIN IN BUSINESS, THIS AMENDMENT ENSURES THAT THE SMALLEST PRODUCERS SELLING DIRECTLY TO CONSUMERS CAN CONTINUE BEING REGULATED AT THE STATE LEVEL.
03:02:28 ALSO FARMERS RAISING PRODUCE TO SELL DIRECTLY TO CONSUMERS AT FARMERS MARKETS AND FOOD CO-OPS FACE SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENT ISSUES AND POSE LESS RISK THAN THOSE SELLING INTO THE INDUSTRIAL SUPPLY CHAIN AND SHOULD NOT BE REGULATED IN THE SAME WAY.
03:02:45 NORTH CAROLINA IS A FARMING STATE, AND I VALUE FARMING AS AN INSTITUTION THAT IS CENTRAL TO MY STATE AND AMERICA'S HISTORY AND OUR CULTURE.
03:02:55 AND IN MY STATE WE HAVE HONEST FARMERS WHO WORK VERY HARD TO MAKE A LIVING.
03:02:59 AND I BELIEVE WITH THE RESTITUTION STUDY LANGUAGE AND THE ADOPTION OF THE TESTER-HAGAN AMENDMENT THAT THIS FOOD SAFETY BILL STRIKES THE RIGHT BALANCE BETWEEN PROTECTING THE PUBLIC'S HEALTH FROM FOOD-BOURNE ILLNESSES WHILE ENSURING OUR NATION'S FARMERS CAN CONTINUE TO FEED AMERICANS.
03:03:18 THANK YOU, MR. PRESIDENT.


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