Food Safety Modernization Act



Passed by Congress in 2010 and signed into law in 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the first major overhaul of our nation’s food safety practices since 1938. The law includes new regulations for farms that grow fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) and for facilities that process food for people to eat. This means it represents some big changes to our food system – and it is extremely important for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to get these regulations right so that they improve food safety without placing an unfair burden on family farms and our developing local food system.

FSMA gives the FDA broad new powers to prevent food safety problems, detect and respond to food safety issues, and improve the safety of imported foods.  To do so, FSMA authorizes new regulations for farmers who grow certain kinds of fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) and for certain facilities that process food for people to eat.  The regulations focus on addressing food safety risks from microbial pathogen contamination (e.g., Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, and Shigella).

Specifically, FSMA requires FDA to establish new regulations for:

·   Standards for produce production (Produce Rule), and
·   Food safety measures for facilities that process food for human consumption (Preventive Controls Rule).

As of March 2015, FDA is currently in the rulemaking stage – turning the FSMA bill passed by Congress in 2010 into actual rules and regulations that will affect farmers, food businesses, and everyone who eats food. The opportunity for the public to comment on FDA’s proposed rules ended in late 2014, but the rules are not yet final, and are not yet being implemented on the ground on farms and businesses.


Current Situation

Will The US Senate Let FDA Break the Law?
July 24, 2015

When Congress enacted the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), one of the key protections for local food systems was that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was prohibited from requiring farmers or food entrepreneurs to undergo third party compliance audits. One of these audits can be expensive—costing anywhere from $700 to $14,000 per year—and Congress recognized that this was an unnecessary financial burden on farms and small food businesses. FSMA is crystal clear: FDA cannot require such audits to prove, or as a condition of, compliance with either the rules governing practices for growing produce, or those for food and feed manufacturing.

Unfortunately, it looks like FDA didn’t read the law. When the agency published proposed FSMA rules last year, it included a requirement that food facilities—which includes everything from produce packing houses to animal feed mills to factories making Cheeze Whiz—have a ‘Supplier Verification’ program. Supplier Verification means those facilities must obtain annual documentation from their suppliers, including farms, that those suppliers are in compliance with FSMA. The only way to prove compliance? A third-party audit.

The final versions on the rule are due to be published soon, so there’s still time to put pressure on FDA and the White House to withdraw this costly and unlawful Supplier Verification mandate. One way to do that is to get members of the US Senate to complain to FDA about the proposal. Read the “Take Action” section below for information on how you can call your Senator.

FDA Is Reading Your Comments
December 2014

Before FDA can finalize the proposed rules, the agency needs to read the input it received in 2014 from the public. Comments from consumers, farmers, on-farm processors and food businesses will directly shape the final rules and were critical to ensuring that the final rules work for small and mid-sized farmers, sustainable and organic growers, value-added businesses and conservation systems.

Thank you to everyone who submitted a comment!


Take Action

July 24, 2015

Call your US Senator today and ask him to contact the FDA to demand that the agency abide by the law and strip the Supplier Verification requirement out of the final rules.

When you call, here’s you can say:

  1. Introduce yourself (first and last name) and explain that you are a citizen of North or South Carolina (if you are a farmer or run a food business, be sure to say so).
  2. Say that you are calling because you are concerned about the FDA’s Supplier Verification requirement in its proposed preventive controls rules under FSMA.
  3. Say that you oppose the requirement because:
    • Congress specifically forbade FDA to require third-party compliance audits, and FDA cannot be allowed to violate Congressional intent.
    • The costs of these audits will be devastating for small farms and food businesses—anywhere from $700 to $14,000 for one audit, not counting the cost to the farm or business in record keeping and paperwork.
    • Small farms and businesses will lose markets when they can’t afford these audits.

If you feel nervous about making a phone call, watch CFSA’s “How To Call Your Representative” video.

Here is contact info for the Carolinas’ Senators:

North Carolina
Richard Burr: (202) 224-3154
Thom Tillis: (202) 224-6342

South Carolina
Tim Scott: (202) 224-6121
Lindsey Graham: (202) 224-5972

Stay Informed  

CFSA will issue regular updates and information on this website as we analyze the rules’ impact on sustainable farm and food systems.

Sign up for our federal action alerts to follow this issue as it moves forward.

CFSA’s Fight for Food Safety

Background Information 

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. 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.


Making ‘Food Safety’ Safe for Small Farms and Local Food

In 2010, 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.


In 2013, the FDA published proposed rules for implementing FSMA.  These rules were badly flawed and threatened to put many small, sustainable farmers out of business.  CFSA and our allies rallied farmers, entrepreneurs and consumers nation-wide to protest these bad proposals—over 20,000 comments poured in demanding major changes.  In another huge victory for our movement, FDA went back to the drawing board.


In fall 2014, FDA issued revised proposed regulations relating to several key issues, including the use of compost and manure, food hubs and cooperatives, the definition of a farm, water standards, animal feed, conservation practices and record-keeping.  Again, CFSA and other sustainable ag organization’s rallied local organic farming supporters to demand further changes.  The comment period on those rules ended in December, with another 4,000 comments from the public.


Learn More