Several amendments aimed at lessening the impact on small farms will be adopted in the final version of the food safety bill headed for the Senate floor next week, a key sustainable agriculture group announced yesterday.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) reported that “several very important breakthroughs on important improvements” for its constituents will be included in the manager’s amendment, a package of changes agreed upon by both sides before floor debate.

The group has been working closely with Senate staff to address widespread concern in the small, organic, sustainable agriculture communities about the impact the pending FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (S. 510) would have on the growing local food movement.

With key changes in the works, the group may be able to get behind the legislation, NSAC spokeswoman Aimee Witteman told Food Safety News. “Assuming there are no new surprises in the bill and once information is shared about the outcome of the negotiations over Senator Brown’s traceback provision [see below], we can support the bill as amended,” said Witteman in an email yesterday.

According to NSAC, the support for changes has “picked up speed in the past week” with a floor vote imminent. The group reported that the following changes have been agreed to (it’s important to note, the final language has not been worked out):

-The amendment sponsored by Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) pertaining to farms that engage in value-added processing or that co-mingle product from several farms will be included in the final bill. It will provide the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the authority to either exempt farms engaged in low or no risk processing or co-mingling activities from new regulatory requirements or to modify particular regulatory requirements for such farming operations. Included within the purview of the amendment are exemptions or flexibilities with respect to requirements within S. 510 for food safety preventative control plans, and FDA on-farm inspections.