Why Proposed Food Safety Rules Could Hurt New England Farms

Jenny Rushlow

Small farms are part of the fabric of New England, and now – perhaps more than ever – consumers are devoted to supporting local agriculture in our region.  Unfortunately, some proposed federal regulations do not reflect these local values.  The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed new food safety rules  impose confusing and cumbersome restrictions on farm operations in the name of food safety.  We are all in agreement that food safety is extremely important.  But the new FDA rules were designed with large-scale agriculture in mind, and are not compatible with the scale of agricultural production operations in New England. These rules are critically important – they will impact how food in New England and around the country is grown, handled, and processed. Whether you are a farmer, a food buyer or processor, or someone working toward a thriving and resilient New England farm and food system, you have a stake in how new food safety laws are implemented.

CLF will be co-hosting a free webinar on the new FDA food safety regulations on August 13th from 12-1:30 PM.  We’ll be discussing two rules that were recently issued to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA): the “produce” rule, which addresses farm practices, and the “preventive controls” rule, which governs facilities that manufacture, process, pack or hold food. This webinar will teach you how these food safety rules may affect your farm, your business, your food purchasing decisions or the region’s farm economy and environment—and how you can take action to be sure your voice is heard.   You can register for the free webinar.  If you’re interested but unable to participate in the webinar, please register and we will send you a link to the webinar after it happens so you can watch it at your convenience.  After the webinar, we encourage you to attend the FDA listening sessions in Augusta, ME (August 19) and Hanover, NH (August 20) to provide comments, and to submit written comments to the FDA before the November 13 deadline.

Webinar speakers include:  Dr. Joanne Burke, Food & Society Faculty Fellow, University of New Hampshire; Dr. Richard Bonanno, Extension Educator, UMass Extension and President, Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation; Dr. Lori Pivarnik, Coordinator, Food Safety Outreach/Research Nutrition and Food Sciences Department University of Rhode Island; and  Roger Noonan, President, New England Farmers Union.

Webinar sponsors are: New England Food System Policy Project (a project of American Farmland Trust, Conservation Law Foundation, and Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group); Food Solutions New England; Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation; New England Farmers Union; Rhode Island Division of Agriculture; UMass Extension; and University of Rhode Island.

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