Posted September 19, 2014
The Washington Department of Agriculture (WSDA) is trying to enforce a new federal food safety law, according to a Capital Press article by Don Jenkins available here.
Kirk Robinson, WSDA assistant director, said the department thinks farmers and food processors would prefer to be checked by federal inspectors as opposed to state.
“We have a good relationship with our farmers and processors,” Robinson said. “I think we have a good history of being a regulator and partner of our industry.”
The law is intended to prevent food-borne illnesses, which affect more than 48 million Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The law will also prevent businesses from being linked to “economically devastating” public health and public relations disasters, and the law could help safety-conscious food handlers compete with other competitors.
Robinson also stated he believes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will have to rely on states to oversee most of the law’s implementation. The FDA has estimated the law will cost up to $450 million a year. Congress has yet to raise money through user fees.
Several House ag committee members have said they feared the rules will be “unreasonable.” Members are also concerned farmers will be required to test water quality when they irrigate, even if crops have no history of being contaminated by waterborne bacterial diseases.
“I’m worried not only about food prices going up, but that a lot of the cost actually is going to be absorbed by the farmer,” said Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama.
For more information on food safety, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.