CFSA is thankful to the SC Department of Agriculture for involving us and many other stakeholders, such as Clemson and Farm Bureau, in the Produce Safety Bill (H. 4003). CFSA was heavily involved with getting farmer comments and input to the FDA as the Food Safety Modernization Act was crafted and is now being implemented. We’re supportive of SC’s initiative to give the SC Department of Agriculture authority to enforce these food safety standards in SC and of SCDA’s planned initiatives of farmer outreach and education before enforcement.
The poultry bill passed out of the House, was read in the Senate, and was referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.
From the SC House Legislative Update: The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3929, a bill revising permitting provisions for POULTRY FARM facilities. The legislation makes provisions for a more expedited approval process for a poultry facility or another agricultural animal facility, except a swine facility, and expansions to such existing facilities. The legislation makes revisions regarding setbacks, buffers and other specific requirements for the review and appeal of decisions by the Department of Environmental Control regarding the permitting of certain agricultural animal facilities, other than swine facilities. The legislation changes the distance from two miles to one mile in which an affected person must live in order to appeal the facility’s operating permit. The legislation further provides that challenges must be made by an individual affected person and may not be lodged on their behalf.
In October 2015, heavy rains after a wet season resulted in massive flooding in large swaths of South Carolina. Hundreds of farms were affected. Many of the farms that grow food (rather than commodities) didn’t have crop insurance to help cover their losses. In fact, according to Roland McReynolds, CFSA’s executive director, “Small farmers who grow produce for human consumption often have difficulty finding whole farm insurance.”
Through participation in local FSA county committees, farmers and ranchers have an opportunity to voice to their opinions and share their ideas on federal farm programs. Committee members make important decisions about federal farm programs that FSA staff implement at the local level.
In June 2017, FSA began the annual process of accepting nominations for candidates willing to serve on county committees. Elections for these candidates will be held over the month of November. Serving on a local FSA committee is an opportunity for farmers and ranchers in the Carolinas to get involved in the administration of FSA programs. Diverse representation of farmers ensures that all of the voices of agriculture are included in important local decisions about the implementation of federal programs.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will heap unnecessary and expensive regulation on small food processors. FSMA is a federal law that passed Congress in 2011. The law directed the US Food and Drug Administration to write regulations that will require food processing facilities to engage in expensive, and time consuming practices.
Food processing facilities include cheese makers, coffee roasters, produce distribution companies and many more. The Food and Drug Administration estimates that it will cost very small food processing companies about $31,000 to comply with FSMA.
“[FDA] concludes that the proposed rule will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities… The regulatory costs of this proposed rule may discourage at least some new small businesses from entering the industry.”
This is bad news for the growing local food economy. But there is hope! Thanks to advocacy by CFSA and other organizations that represent small food processors, Congress gave states permission to regulate very small food processors using their own food safety regulations.
The South Carolina General Assembly is currently considering Senate Bill 284, which would allow South Carolina to regulate small food processing businesses using existing laws that are working for food processing businesses and consumers.
CFSA supports efforts to include an appropriation for a Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) in the SC budget. Such an appropriation, which will to make it easier for farmers and food businesses working to connect people with healthy, local food, narrowly failed last year. CFSA is hard at work to make 2016 the year when S.C. invests in local farmers and food businesses by providing access to affordable credit to establish, renovate, or expand projects that increase access to healthy, local food in communities where access to this food is limited or totally unavailable.