Action Alert: Submit Comments to FDA on Food Safety Rules by Nov. 15

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Action Alert: Submit Comments to FDA on Food Safety Rules by Nov. 15


Home-Sweet-Farm-July-Hanon-BasilThe FDA’s proposed food safety regulations pose significant problems for sustainable farmers, food producers, and food hubs across the country.

Under the proposed regulations, many farmers will be forced to comply with high-cost, industrial-scale regulations, and they will be unable to use traditional, sustainable growing practices. Food hubs and local food businesses will be forced to deal with costly and burdensome paperwork. Ultimately, consumers will face increased food prices and reduced availability of locally and sustainably produced foods.

The major problems with the proposed regulations are explained below. CLICK HERE to find out how YOU can help, with sample comments to the FDA and more! (Note: please be sure to submit your comments by the November 15 deadline.)

Exemption for Small-Scale Producers Under Threat
Congress included a very important provision in the Food Safety Modernization Act to exempt small-scale, direct-marketing producers. Specifically, under the Tester-Hagan amendment, farmers and food producers who sell less than $500,000 annually, and who sell more than half of their products directly to consumers or local restaurants and retailers, are exempt from the new regulations.

But the FDA’s proposed regulations don’t fulfill the intent of the provision. First, the FDA wants to judge farmers’ sales based on all their sales, not just the food that is subject to FDA regulation. This means that many diversified farmers will be unable to qualify for the exemption, even if they are raising only small amounts of food that is covered by the law.

Second, the FDA wants to be able to revoke farmers’ and producers’ exemptions without respecting basic principles of fairness and due process. As proposed, the regulations:

-Leave too much discretion in the hands of individual FDA officials;
-Do not give small farmers and local food producers enough opportunity to respond to a decision to end their exemption; and
-Do not give small farmers and local food producers enough time to comply with the rules if their exemption is revoked.

In essence, this means that any farmer or producer targeted by the FDA for revocation of its exemption will almost certainly go out of business. The number of producers targeted this way by the FDA is likely to be small, but it will be devastating for those affected. And the uncertainty of not knowing who might be the agency’s next target will have a chilling effect on many small producers.
Proposed Rule #1: Regulations on How Farms Grow Produce
For farmers who don’t qualify for the Tester-Hagan exemption or whose exemption is revoked, the proposed produce safety regulations cover every aspect of growing and harvesting crops. Overall, the agency has taken a “guilty until proven innocent” approach to many traditional farming practices, forcing farmers to present scientific evidence in order to continue using farming methods that have been used for decades or even centuries.


How to take action: