The Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 (FSEA) passed by the House of Representatives last week would apparently spare livestock producers from key concerns voiced by cattlemen.

According to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), the final House bill clarifies that livestock are exempt from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation – including on-farm inspections and additional authorities currently under the jurisdiction of USDA. Final language in the bill also includes clarifications to traceability and record-keeping provisions contained in the bill.

Among other things, original language in the bill would have authorized FDA to conduct on-farm inspections, undermining USDA’s regulatory authority in ensuring the safety of meat and poultry products.

During earlier debate, Kristina Butts, NCBA manager of legislative affairs, explained, “We all agree that food safety is extremely important, and beef producers remain committed to producing safe, nutritious and wholesome beef products. But, giving additional broad authority for on-farm food safety plans will not improve food safety and will be an economic burden, not only for beef producers but for the FDA. Using precious FDA resources for this purpose would be duplicative and would undermine the strong process we currently have in place.”

Originally, the bill also required FDA to create a tracing system for the complete pedigree of all food, including meat, which is not regulated by the FDA. This type of on-farm system would increase production and technology costs for cattle producers and would be overly burdensome for both producers and the FDA.

The bill passed last week also excludes the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2009, which would have banned the use of animal health products currently used by livestock producers to prevent and control animal disease, according to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC).

“The House bill moves us in the right direction, but work remains,” says Don Butler, NPPC president.

Now, the Senate will take its crack at it.