Your Turn To Act: Tell FDA Not To Crush Local Farms!

Ben Tettlebaum

Do you love farmers’ markets, farm-to-table restaurants, and fresh fruits and vegetables in schools? New regulations proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could seriously damage small New England farms that bring you this healthy, local food.

As explained in my last blog post, FDA’s proposed rules implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act risk crushing organic agriculture, local food, and farm conservation practices. Small-scale farmers and food businesses feed our communities and protect our land. Saddling them with industrial-scale regulation is not the path to greater food safety.

OK, but I’m just one local-food-loving consumer. What can I possibly do to make a difference?

A lot! Rulemaking is the federal government’s most beautifully inclusive democratic process. FDA directly asks us—the public—to comment on its proposed rules.  And FDA pays attention to every unique comment. That’s democracy at work!

We have until only November 15 to comment! If you can take just 5 minutes to write a comment, please personalize the message below, cut and paste it here and here, and submit it to FDA or visit our action site:

I am a [consumer, farmer] writing because I am concerned about the impact FDA’s proposed FSMA rules will have on [the farms where I buy food, my farm, the environment].  Please ensure that new regulations do not put local, family farms out of business, harm farmers’ soil, water, and wildlife conservation efforts, or reduce the availability of fresh, local food in our communities.

[Why do you buy from local farms/farmers’ markets?  If local farms went out of business, how would that limit your access to fresh produce?  Why is it important to you that farmers be able to support habitat for honeybees and wildlife?]

I urge you to modify the rules so that they:

  • Allow farmers to use sustainable farming practices, including those already encouraged by existing federal programs.  Do not exceed the strict standards for the use of manure and compost used in certified organic production.
  • Provide options that treat family farms fairly, with due process and without excessive costs.  Define clearly the “material conditions” that lead to withdrawing a farmer’s protected status.  Outline a fair process for justifying withdrawing that protection, and explain how a farmer can regain it.

Finally, please prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Preventive Controls Rule.  The number of small farms and food businesses forced to shut down will lead to development of farmland and wildlife habitat, and more industrialized food processing.  These are extraordinary circumstances that will have a significant impact on human health and the environment.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

[Your Address]

[City, State ZIP]

If you can devote extra time to write a more detailed comment, learn more about the proposed rules at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s FSMA Action Center.

Join CLF in Maine at an informational session on the proposed rules. We’ll give you the tools you need to comment to FDA.  RSVP here!

  • WHEN:  Tuesday, November 5, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
  • WHERE:  Zero Station/The Resilience Hub, 222 and 224 Anderson Street, Portland, ME

With your help, we can protect small farms and local food!

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The views and opinions expressed on this blog do not necessarily represent the opinions or positions of Conservation Law Foundation, our boards, or our supporters.