Louisiana Legislature Gets Ahead of Federal Regulators on Food Safety Law

By Allie Doise, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation

Louisiana lawmakers have taken a proactive approach to implementing the Federal Food Safety Modernization Act.

Louisiana lawmakers have taken a proactive approach to implementing the Federal Food Safety Modernization Act.

More federal regulation is on its way for Louisiana agriculture, but state lawmakers have voted to choose how these regulations are implemented in our state, instead of deferring to federal regulators.

The United States Congress passed the FDA Food Modernization Act in 2011, and the produce safety rule was passed in 2015. It will begin to be implemented in February of 2018. Some parts of it, such as the water rule, will go into affect January 2018.

Senate Bill 256 by Senator Francis Thompson would place the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry in charge of implementing the Federal Food Safety and Modernization Act.

Dr. Mike Strain, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry commissioner, said this bill allows a more personal approach to the implementation of the Act.  

“This is enabling legislation that allows us to administer from a state perspective,” Strain said. “This is state personnel versus federal personnel and that’s what it is all about.”

The bill has passed in both the Senate and the House, and it is currently waiting on Governor Edwards’ signature.

If Edwards does not sign the bill, federal FDA personnel will be implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act on Louisiana farms and businesses.

Joe Mapes, Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation legislative specialist, said federal regulation could cause unnecessary hardships for the Louisiana Agricultural industry.

“They are much stricter, and don’t know as much about what’s going on in Louisiana as our own people do,” said Mapes

Strain said all efforts for the implementation will be federally funded.

“We expect more than $300 millions of federal money to educate our farmers, our produce producers, our truckers, all the different entities involved, and our businesses on the produce safety rule,” Strain said.

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry has already begun the educational process of the implementation.