When Congress drafted the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), it intended to make our food safer while protecting smaller farms and food businesses, not forcing them to shut down. And when President Obama signed the FSMA into law in 2011, he never intended to put out of business small- to medium-scale family farmers across the country. But two-and-a-half years later, that is exactly what the FDA’s proposed food safety rules risk doing.
How? By forcing smaller operations to comply with industrial-scale regulations that inhibit conservation practices and discourage small farms and food businesses from diversifying what they produce.
But the story is not over. You have the power to make a difference in government. That’s not just empty rhetoric. Michael Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods, has been on a “listening tour” across the United States getting feedback from people on how to change the proposed Produce Safety Rule and Preventive Controls Rule.
And here’s some good news!
- FDA announced it will provide some protection for farmers’ markets, community supported agriculture, and roadside farm stands by considering them “retail food establishments” exempt from part of the Preventive Controls Rule.
- FDA will conduct a thorough environmental review of the Produce Safety Rule’s environmental impacts.
FDA would not have made these changes without feedback from the public. It’s a great start. But it’s not nearly enough to keep thousands of farms from going under.
The takeaway is this: commenting to FDA works!
We have until only this Friday, November 15, to comment on FDA’s two proposed rules. If you want to see your farmers’ market continue to grow and thrive, please comment at our action site today! Together, we can support small farms, protect locally grown fruits and vegetables, and make our food healthier, more environmentally friendly, and safer.