13 November 2013

Food Safety Modernization Act

Information and links complied Anna Curtin & Mona Johnson 

For the first time in a few generations, there are new rules proposed to update regulations concerning food safety with modern knowledge and practices. The main issue at PFM and other promoters of family and small acreage farms is that many of the proposed rules are not “scale-appropriate,” meaning the proposed rules and legislation may place undue burden (time and money) on small farmers and producers.

Data indicates that farms with less than $250,000 in annual sales will be spending 60% of their profits complying with the new rules.  As a result of these costs, FDA anticipates that some farmers will go out of business, fewer people will start to farm, and more farmers will have to seek off-farm jobs—all of which will contribute to a stagnation in the growth of sustainable farming and local food initiatives.

– From Farmers Market Coalition. Entire post here.

Broadly speaking, the intent behind this campaign is to make sure the FDA implements the bill as intended when it was signed into law. There’s a lot of concern that the nuances that most impact our farmers and growers will get lost in the rule making. Here’s the bullet points of FSMA provisions we want to protect (taken from National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s website):

  • Scale-appropriate regulations: Rejecting a “one-size-fits-all” approach, FSMA includes options for small, mid-sized, and direct-market agricultural operations to comply with equivalent state regulations or modified, scale-appropriate federal regulation.
  • Conservation practices: Recognizing that conservation practices have a number of public benefits, FSMA indicates that new regulations should not undermine beneficial on-farm conservation and wildlife practices.
  • Organic production: Acknowledging that organic production and food safety go hand-in-hand, FSMA specifies that new regulations must complement – not contradict – strict regulations for certified organic production.
  • Value-added processing: Supporting the development of new low-risk processing businesses, FSMA minimizes extra regulations for low-risk processing that is part of value-added production.
  • Paperwork reduction: Recognizing the burden on smaller operations, FSMA streamlines and reduces unnecessary paperwork for farmers and small processors.
  • Farm identity-preserved: Accepting that identity-preserved marketing has built-in traceability attributes, FSMA allows farm identity-preserved marketing as an option in place of government trace-back controls.
  • Training: Supporting the importance of training and capacity building, FSMA authorizes a new competitive grants program to train farmers and processors on food safety.

We are asking readers to jump to this page, to learn more about this issue that concerns our farmers and our markets and if so inclined, leave your comments with the FDA.