Action Alert: Stand Up for Small Farmers! (NEW Deadline: Nov. 22)

Thursday, November 14, 2013 // Sam Anderson

[UPDATE: FDA has extended the comment period to November 22.]

It may not be making the evening news, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed new food safety rules which could have some very alarming consequences for beginning and small-scale farmers, for food hubs like World PEAS that aggregate produce from multiple growers, and for their customers.

The good news: You can help us do something about it! The comment period for these rules ends FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 22. You don't have to be a farmer – everyone's voice counts. Click here if you want to comment right now, or read on for more information.

The new rules are FDA's proposal for implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) passed by Congress. FSMA is the first major overhaul of our nation's food safety practices since 1938. It represents some big changes to our food system, so it is extremely important for the FDA to get these regulations right – and right now, the proposed rules leave a great deal to be desired, especially for small-scale and beginning farmers and the customers they serve.

If we don't fix these draft rules:

  • The high costs of compliance will deter beginning farmers from starting to farm, and could put farmers and food entrepreneurs out of business
  • Cooperatives and food hubs which aggregate food may be forced to implement costly new infrastructure changes and could be forced to modify their business structure for traceability purposes
  • It will be harder for children, schools, and families to get fresh, healthy produce from farmers that use sustainable practices,  and
  • Farmers will be less able to use sustainable and organic practices on their farms.

Everyone has a role in ensuring our nation’s food is safe – from the farmers who grow it to the folks who take it home and prepare it. But unless we act now, these new rules will have a devastating impact on the farmers and businesses responsible for putting fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods onto your dinner plates – which, in turn, affects your health and well being.

Here are some links for more information about FSMA, how it could impact farmers and consumers, and what you can do about it:

(Includes a brief rundown of the issues, how to submit comments, and links to the comment pages – thanks to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition [NSAC])

FSMA Overview - from NSAC

Summary of Proposed Rules and New England impacts – from New England Farmers Union (NEFU)