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Flood of Comments First Step Towards Correcting Proposed FSMA Food Safety Rules

By Mark Keating, OFRF Policy Advisor

              We knew the stakes were high and apparently lots of other folks agreed. http://www.wisfarmer.com/news/headlines/fsma-comes-under-fire-b99150917z1-233454541.html By last week’s close of the public comment period on the FDA’s proposed regulations to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), more than 20,000 farmers, concerned consumers and grassroots organizations had weighed in.  A big THANK YOU to everyone for making your voices heard as this monumental process moves forward – you are making a major difference.

Mark Keating's picture

FSMA Rules Threaten Small Organic Farmers: Comment Deadline Friday

By Mark Keating, OFRF Policy Advisor            

            This Friday, November 22 brings to a close your opportunity to comment on the FDA’s proposed rules for implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  Making your voice heard in an informed, constructive manner is essential for protecting the rights of farmers and consumers to build the organic and local food systems, which are our surest path to a sustainable future.

            The organic community has always supported fair, practical and efficient regulations to improve food safety, but virtually nothing in FDA’s current proposal satisfies those conditions.  As drafted, it would cripple small- and medium-sized farming operations with burdensome and expensive compliance requirements http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/food-safety-comments-top-10/   which cannot be justified by what we currently know about food safety.  Provisions in the proposal would largely eliminate the use of natural fertilizers including compost, require farmers using irrigation to test their water weekly and severely restrict the burgeoning local foods movement.

Mark Keating's picture

Looking on the Bright Side

There was no Farm Bill at this time a year ago, as Congressional dysfunction led to the legislation’s expiration.  Congress rallied in December 2012 and extended the Farm Bill for nine months, minus nearly $500 million in crucial funding for organic, local and beginning farmers.  The recent budget impasse in Washington shutdown all USDA farm credit and conservation compliance activities and forced the Department to cancel the National Organic Standards Board meeting scheduled for Louisville, KY.

With this history of achievement, it takes a healthy streak of optimism to get fired up about this week’s Congressional negotiations to renew the Farm Bill and pass a 2014 budget.  OFRF and its national network of partner organizations  will stay in the thick of those deliberations, though I personally look forward to a more relaxed atmosphere inspecting organic farms across Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska.

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