6 May 2014

Food Bill changes will protect small business

1:42 pm on 6 May 2014

The Green Party says changes made to the Food Bill will ensure small growers and sellers of food are protected from high compliance costs.

The bill has been through the select committee stage and has the Greens' support.

Small producers had feared the bill would mean extra compliance costs that could put them out of business and destroy the culture of food-sharing among communities.

And farmers' markets were worried they'd have to meet the same stringent rules as restaurants.

Steffan Browning.

Steffan Browning. Photo: Supplied

The Greens agriculture spokesperson, Steffan Browning, says the Food Bill will now take into account the scale of the producer.

"There are small growers who set up at the farmers markets, or roadside stalls, they will not have to have verifications and costs of registering, if they are only selling directly to the public," he said.

"If they want to sell on to somebody else and there are very small operators who do sometimes- they might be providing some garnish or unique vegetable or something for a restaurant.

"They might just have a very small volume of production, just a couple of crates of tomatoes a week that they want to sell at the local dairy - it would be possible the way the Bill is structured for that to happen under regulation."

Mr Browning believes another good change to the bill is that genetically engineered food can be considered a food safety issue.

However, he says the Green Party would still prefer an independent stand-alone, Food Safety Authority, and the Food Bill won't deliver that.