Help Keep Small Farmers and Food Producers in Business

Wendell Verret – Friday, January 02, 2015

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently published revisions to four of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) provisions.  These changes might affect some vendors who participate in our market.

According to the FDA, certain aspects of the:  1) Proposed Rule for Produce Safety; 2) Proposed Rule for Preventive Controls for Human Food; 3) Proposed Rule for Preventive Controls for Animal Food; and Proposed Rule for Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals have been modified to provide more flexibility to producers and suppliers.  However, implementing these revisions will have a direct and devastating impact on small, sustainable farms and food businesses.  Many producers will have to raise prices, or could be driven out of business completely, reducing consumer access to local, healthy foods.


As an example, with regard to the Produce Safety Rule, the FDA changes the microbial standard for water that is directly applied during the growing of produce and proposes a tiered and more targeted approach to testing each source of untreated water.  These new standards are a financial and logistical nightmare for the average farmer trying to make a living.  The real risk for foodborne illness comes from the large-scale, industrialized food system, but the FDA’s rules take a one-size-fits-all approach on many issues, imposing costly burdens on small producers like our local farmers, who are not the source of the problem.


The original rule proposals brought a deafening outcry from small farmers, prominent members of Congress, consumers, and even big business.  This response presumably caused the FDA to backtrack considerably, and the agency addressed many of the concerns raised through the newly proposed revisions.  However, the revisions still affect small businesses to the point where even the FDA admits that companies could be financially ill-equipped and fail.


We encourage you to Take Action against these proposed new regulations.  One way is to sign the Letter to Protect the Exemption for Small-Scale, Direct-Marketing Producers, also known as the Tester-Hagan exemption.  You can sign on as an individual consumer, a farmer, or food business.  If you are authorized to speak on behalf of a non-profit, please feel free to sign on your organization.


Another way to fight the cause is by submitting individual comments on provisions of the proposed rules.  The deadline for submitting comments to the FDA is Monday, December 15, 2014.


And finally, speak out!  Spread the word!  Share this information with your friends, family, and others within the community.  Tweet it and post it on Facebook.  Information is power!!


To learn more about the Proposed Supplemental Rules, visit the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).