[This alert is over–comment period now closed]
In response to recent widespread, and sometimes deadly, outbreaks of foodborne illness, Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) charging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with improving their oversight of the food industry.
But the intense blowback the FDA received last year from family-scale farmers and consumers over their proposed food safety rules for produce led the agency to withdraw and rewrite their proposed rules. Your comments last year had an impact!
The FDA has now released their new draft, which addresses many of the objections. However, a number of problems and pitfalls for farmers remain in the new draft. The proposal will also be of interest to the customers of local, organic food purchased through farmers markets, CSAs and co-op grocers.
Public comments are due by December 15 on the draft rules.
The Cornucopia Institute, working with other groups, has requested a 90-day extension to allow for fuller and careful analysis of the latest proposal.
You can comment online, but be sure to do so at both of these locations as the regulations impacting family scale farmers are intertwined in both of these FDA dockets:
Or you can comment by mail to Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Make sure you note that you are commenting on dockets FDA-2011-N-0921-0973 and FDA-2011-N-0920-1553. Your letter needs to be postmarked no later than December 15.
According to the analysis performed by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, growers with sales up to $500,000 would likely spend 4% to 6% of their gross revenue to comply with the new food safety rules. For small farms, FSMA could consume more than half of their modest profits. It is important that family-scale farmers producing our nation’s best and safest produce be protected from unnecessary and onerous regulations — this could put some farmers out of business and/or reduce the availability of organic and local food and/or increase pricing.
Key Points to Mention in Your Comments:
- Tell the FDA that the cost to farmers for implementing the proposed rules will endanger the livelihoods of organic farmers and their customers’ access to safe and nutritionally superior local and organic food.
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