R 330
2017 -- S 0919 SUBSTITUTE A
Enacted 06/21/2017

S E N A T E   R E S O L U T I O N

Introduced By: Senators Sosnowski, Coyne, Calkin, Kettle, and Miller
Date Introduced: May 30, 2017

     WHEREAS, The Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law in 2011 by
President Obama, with the goal to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from
responding to contamination to preventing it; and
     WHEREAS, The American public deserves access to the safest food in the world, and an
important way to meet that goal is through policy that prevents food contamination; and
     WHEREAS, Although the Food and Drug Administration has been charged with
implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act, the FDA lacks experience with the
complexities of overseeing our nation’s agricultural lands which experience would allow it to
effectively regulate food production; and
     WHEREAS, the United States Department of Agriculture was founded by President
Abraham Lincoln in 1862, when half of the Nation’s population lived and worked on farms, the
USDA’s role has evolved with the economy; and
     WHEREAS, the USDA works towards our shared goals of rural prosperity, preservation
of forests and working lands, sustainable agricultural production, job opportunities and safe,
nutritious food for every American; and
     WHEREAS, the USDA provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural
development, nutrition, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available
science, and efficient management; and
     WHEREAS, the USDA has a multi-year strategic plan consisting of five strategic goals
which contain 16 objectives including increasing agricultural opportunities by ensuring a robust
safety net, creating new markets, and supporting a competitive agricultural system, and
     WHEREAS, Regulating the way foods are grown in order to prevent food contamination
should therefore be overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture; and
     WHEREAS, Rhode Island agriculture is an important and growing sector of the state’s
economy with over 1,200 farms employing more than 2,500 workers, covering over 69,000 acres;
     WHEREAS, A strong local food system creates growth in many related businesses from
food processors, to storage facilities and transportation networks, to restaurants and tourism; and
     WHEREAS, Rhode Island’s farms are predominantly small-scale family run businesses
that have made the state a national leader in the quantity of fresh fruits and vegetables sold
directly from the farm to consumers; and
     WHEREAS, According to the United States Department of Agriculture, there are 2,055
people who operate farms in Rhode Island; 773 of them are women and for 619 of them, farming
is their primary source of income, and only 86 farmers in the state of Rhode Island receive 100%
of their income from farming, and
     WHEREAS, Farms vary in size in the state with 433 farms that are 9 acres or less in area
and only four farms in Rhode Island that are over 1,000 acres, and the average Rhode Island farm
has 56 acres; and
     WHEREAS, Rhode Island has the highest farmland prices in the nation, while the
average income for a Rhode Island farm is $47,990 per year, and the US Department of
Agriculture classifies any farm with gross sales of less than $250,000 as a small farm; and
     WHEREAS, The largest age groups for Rhode Island farmers are 45-49 years old and
people who are 70 years or older while the average age for a Rhode Island farmer is 57 years old;
     WHEREAS, When the Food Safety Modernization Act is fully implemented, farms will
be responsible for adhering to the Act. At that point, the U.S. Farm Bureau claims it will be
uneconomical for small farmers to continue to operate; and
     WHEREAS, The Tester-Hagan Amendment to the Food Safety Modernization Act would
exempt farms with gross food sales of less than $25,000 annually, and would exempt farms with
gross food sales of between $25,000 and $500,000 from much of the Act if their sales are to
qualified retailers and sales are not more than 275 miles from the farm; and
     WHEREAS, the Food and Drug Administration has proposed rules that will allow that
agency to revoke the Tester-Hagan Amendment and to require that even small-scale, direct
marketing farms comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act, and
     WHEREAS, The various categories and methods of farming in addition to the various
sizes of farms throughout the United States create myriad complexities requiring different
regulatory treatment with which the US Department of Agriculture works, regulates, preserves
and sustains since it is charged with overseeing, protecting and increasing agricultural
opportunities. The USDA has thus earned the trust of American farmers; now therefore be it
     RESOLVED, That this Senate hereby respectfully requests that the President of the
United States and Congress delay the implementation of the law and ensure the Tester-Hagan
Amendment is complied with or delay the implementation of the law as it pertains to small farms
until it can be further amended so that the United States Department of Agriculture is responsible
for its implementation and so that it exempts small farms from regulations that are cost
prohibitive and could force our farmers out of business; and be it further
     RESOLVED, That failing such amendments, this Senate respectfully requests that the
Food Safety Modernization Act be repealed; and be it further
     RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and hereby is authorized and directed to
transmit duly certified copies of this resolution to the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation.
LC002775/SUB A/2