Small Farmers, Processors Say Senate Bill Could Hurt Business - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Small Farmers And Processors In Oklahoma Say Senate Bill Could Hurt, End Business

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Small food growers and processors say the new food safety regulations in U.S. Senate Bill 510 could hurt or even end their businesses. Small food growers and processors say the new food safety regulations in U.S. Senate Bill 510 could hurt or even end their businesses.
"The more regulations they put on us, and the more paperwork they put on us, I find myself pulling employees off of actually taking care of preparing food and being safe about food to worrying about paperwork," said April Harrington with Earth Elements. "The more regulations they put on us, and the more paperwork they put on us, I find myself pulling employees off of actually taking care of preparing food and being safe about food to worrying about paperwork," said April Harrington with Earth Elements.

Gan Matthews, News 9

NORMAN, Oklahoma – Small food growers and processors in Oklahoma are concerned with U.S. Senate Bill 510 and its effort to enlarge food safety oversight. They say the new regulations in the bill could hurt or even end their businesses.

OM Gardens, just east of Norman, grows gourmet and medicinal mushrooms. The owners practically have the Oklahoma market all to themselves. But they fear Senate Bill 510 threatens their livelihood.

Co-owner Steve Morton said he sells his mushrooms to farmers' markets, food co-ops and to restaurants in Oklahoma City. He and his wife worry about SB 510 and its extension of the Federal Drug Administration's authority over their enterprise.

"If this bill passes, the FDA will be able to come in and basically regulate us out of business if they so wish based on any perceived threat they see to health," said Jacki Morton, with OM Gardens.

In Lexington, April Harrington has a different kind of small-scale food processing business. At Earth Elements, she takes surplus harvest from local farmers and converts it into a variety of food products including jellies, jams. soups, relishes and baked goods. She also sells through farmers' markets, food co-ops, and some grocery stores and she's worried about the burdens the bill in Congress would place upon her.

"The more regulations they put on us, and the more paperwork they put on us, I find myself pulling employees off of actually taking care of preparing food and being safe about food to worrying about paperwork," said Harrington.

The fifty farmers who supply, the 3,000 customers who buy, and the employees who work for Earth Elements are all holding their breath to see what will happen with this bill.

Senate Bill 510 passed the U.S. Senate Tuesday and now goes to the U.S. House where it faces an uncertain future in the days remaining for Congress.

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