During Governor Chet Culver’s final address to the Iowa legislature this morning, he mentioned that his administration
provided the legislature and the new administration with a detailed summary addressing the historic egg recall last summer. This includes five proposed changes in Iowa law that will help improve food safety and employee training standards in the wake of the salmonella outbreak last summer.
I’ve posted the full text of the Culver administration’s egg safety proposals after the jump. This passage summarizes the five areas that would require legislative action:
Although the new federal egg regulatory regime is aimed at the state’s largest producers, a new, mandatory Iowa [Salmonella enteriditis] detection and prevention program should be enacted under amendments to existing law and the creation of a new Iowa Code Section 196.15 to complement the federal government’s efforts to prevent SE contaminated shell eggs from entering into the nation’s food chain from all of Iowa’s egg producers.
There are at least five issues that are not covered by the recent federal egg regulatory reforms, that Iowa law does not currently address and that, therefore, unless corrected legislatively, may leave consumers of Iowa-produced eggs vulnerable to future SE poisoning. First, federal egg safety laws pertain only to egg farms that host at least 3,000 hens and do not cover smaller operations. Second, under federal law, producers have no legal obligation to report positive SE testing results to any federal or state agency. Third, there are no accreditation or certification standards for laboratories that conduct SE testing. Fourth, there are no legal criteria that establish the minimal level of training and competency for persons who are charged with the responsibility for implementing a new mandatory SE detection and prevention program. And, fifth, there is no clearly-identified funding stream to support an effective expansion of state egg programs.
It would take heavy lifting to get these sensible ideas passed and signed into law. Even when Democrats controlled both chambers of the Iowa legislature, few new regulations on agriculture saw the light of day. The Iowa House now has a 60-40 Republican majority, which makes passing new food safety rules even more of an uphill battle. Governor-elect Terry Branstad has repeatedly criticized what he views as excessive regulations on farms, and the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation endorsed Branstad and almost a full slate of Republican legislative candidates last year.