Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced S. 2758, the Growing Safe Food Act, yesterday to help educate and train farmers and food processors in food safety.

The proposed legislation, which is co-sponsored by Senators Bingaman, Boxer, Gillibrand, Leahy Merkley and Sanders, comes as the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, S. 510, a bill that would greatly increase resources and authority for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, continues to be stalled in the Senate behind health care reform.

Stabenow believes her proposal will help small and mid-sized farmers, food processors, and wholesalers comply with the pending food safety overhaul, which is likely to pass once there is room in the Senate schedule.

“With all the recent scares over contaminated food, this legislation will help restore consumer trust in the safety of our food supply,” said Stabenow. “Providing training to farmers and processors on things like handling practices and safe packaging will go a long way toward restoring this confidence.”

The training program proposed would be administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) National Integrated Food Safety Initiative. State agriculture departments, extension services, agricultural trade associations, and universities would be eligible to apply for grant support to promote training programs. 

According to a statement released by Stabenow’s office, “Training can be in the areas of handling practices, manufacturing, produce safety standards, risk analysis, sanitation standards, safe packaging, storage, traceability, record-keeping, and food safety audits.”

The proposed bill also stipulates that existing conservation, biodiversity, and organic farming standards would have to be taken into account in the development of any training program receiving funds.