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Agriculture Today

Time for farmers to comment on regulations

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October 23, 2013 | 3,893 views | Post a comment

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition launched a campaign Oct. 3 to improve deeply flawed federal food safety regulations that will have a huge impact on farmers and the availability of high-quality local food products. According to a National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition press release, the group’s campaign provides farmers, concerned consumers, and farm, food, and public health organizations with information and resources to be able to effectively comment on the proposed regulations.

The deadline for public comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the proposed rules is Friday, Nov. 15.

The regulations are part of the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act passed by Congress in 2010. The regulations set new standards for produce farms and new requirements for food facilities -- including farms -- that handle or process food for human consumption. The FDA is proposing standards that undermine sustainable and organic production practices, subject many farms to regulations designed for industrial facilities, and may well prove too costly for farmers to implement and stay in business. Given the magnitude of the problems with the rules, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is calling on the FDA to issue a new, heavily revised set of proposed rules for both produce farms and preventive controls in facilities.

Information about the proposed regulations, who is affected, and what the top issues are, as well as instructions for how to submit comments to the FDA, are available at http://sustainableagriculture.net/fsma.

The FDA released the proposed regulations in January and has extended the public comment deadline twice. The deadline for public comments on the proposed regulations for produce safety and for food facilities is Nov. 15. The FDA must respond to all public comments properly submitted by the deadline.

“The agency needs to listen carefully to the concerns of farmers and fix the regulations so that they allow farmers to use sustainable farming practices, ensure that local food and farms can grow and thrive, and provide options that treat family farmers fairly,” said Ariane Lotti, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s assistant policy director. “Given the substantial problems in the proposed regulations and the lasting impacts these regulations will have, we join the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and the United Fresh Produce Association in urging FDA to issue a set of second proposed rules so the public can meaningfully comment on what we hope will be a major overhaul of their initial drafts.”

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