[This article was previously published in the winter issue of The Cultivator, Cornucopia’s quarterly newsletter.]
by Will Fantle, Codirector at The Cornucopia Institute
The FDA has released the first section of its final rules that are part of the Food Safety Management Act. This rule covers practices at facilities that sell human food. The rule, which focuses on businesses that manufacture, process, pack, hold, or store food, has several important pieces impacting farmers, and includes some victories.
One such gain clearly defines farm activities and clarifies the meaning of harvesting and packing. The cleaning and bagging of produce is defined as part of normal farm activities—not food manufacturing—something that’s very important to CSA farms and those selling directly to consumers. Another key definition, according to Judith McGeary of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, and a Cornucopia ally, allows multiple farm owners and multiple locations. This, she notes, reflects the reality of modern farming.
Businesses covered by the rule will have to develop a written food safety plan. Small businesses annually grossing less than $1 million will be allowed to provide a much simpler plan or prove that they already are complying with state and/or local laws.
The FDA has also just released (at press time) the final Produce Safety Rule, a rule with major implications for farm practices. Earlier drafts of this rule were very controversial. Cornucopia will be looking closely at this new rule.