Local Food Not Safe from FDA ‘Safety’ Rules
Three years ago our movement fought hard to protect local food from one-size-fits-all food safety rules, and Congress listened to us when they included the Tester-Hagan amendment in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). But the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) didn’t get the memo. They estimate that their proposed rules to implement FSMA will cost the typical small farm $22,383 per year. Since the average net cash income for farmers nationally was 10% of sales in 2011, this represents a severe burden that will put many small farms out of business.
Other hazards in the rule–
- if you apply raw manure to a field, you’ll have to wait 9 months before harvesting any crops from that field.
- if you irrigate with surface waters, you’ll have to test that water once per week, or treat it with chemicals.
- if you grow crops in a hoophouse, you’ll have to keep the floors clean!
- if you are a food hub and you put labels on bags of raw produce, you are a ‘manufacturing’ facility.
Clearly, the fight is not over. If we want local, organic food and farming to thrive, we need to mobilize our families, friends, and neighbors; farmers, foodmakers, and customers, to comment on these rules and tell FDA to keep its hands off local food. The feds must hear from us if we are going to get the changes we need to fix these flawed and illogical rules. Over the next few weeks, CFSA will start rolling out resources and materials to help you make informed comments—Please pay close attention, and be ready to join this campaign. We won a critical victory three years ago, and together we can do it again.
Background Information on CFSA’s Fight for Food Safety
At the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, we believe that local and regional food networks do the best job of protecting your family’s health and safety because they deliver fresher, more nutritious foods.
Organic farming protects you from the health risks of synthetic pesticides, chemicals, and genetically-modified foods. No one is more committed to helping communities eat safe, healthy foods than local, organic farmers and food makers.
That’s why it’s so important that we protect our small and organic food producers from being crushed by regulations meant for industrial farms and factories. In the 1990’s small meat processors were all but wiped out by ‘safety’ regulations written to police giant slaughterhouses. Local, independent businesses simply could not afford the time and expense of complying with those rules, and most closed, making it harder for farms to get healthy, pasture-raised local meats to market. We can’t let it happen again.
Making ‘Food Safety’ Safe for Small Farms and Local Food
In 2011, CFSA helped lead the successful effort to protect small farms and businesses serving local food markets from new federal authority under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). FSMA gives the US Food and Drug Administration new powers to dictate farming practices for fresh produce, and to put a wide range of food-making businesses out of business. But the legislation was just the first step.
FDA is now writing regulations to implement the law, and we must make sure that the FDA honors the protections Congress provided for healthy local foods.
Our Healthy Food Work
CFSA promotes healthy, local, organic food by—
- Representing small and organic farms with state and federal food safety agencies.
- Organizing farmers and local food supporters to educate lawmakers and agency officials about ways to protect and promote local, organic agriculture.
- Providing legal resources to small farms and food entrepreneurs for meeting food safety rules.
- Serving on the Food System Integrity committee of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
- Researching practical, cost-effective ways for small and organic farms to improve their abilities to prevent their products from being contaminated and training farmers on those techniques. Learn more about our Local Produce Safety Initiative here.
Thanks to support from people like you, CFSA has helped small-scale, local and organic food producers and their customers win major, against-the-odds victories. We’ve broken new ground in winning legal recognition for the unique contribution of local, organic food and farming to a healthier food future.