Food safety matters to us all, and we all play a role in keeping food safe — from farm to fork. With the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalizing new food safety rules, it's critical for farmers and eaters alike to speak up and ensure the agency gets these rules right.
As our friends from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) point out, provisions in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) — if done wrong — run the risk of "putting farmers out of business, limiting consumer choice, and increasing the use of chemicals rather than natural fertilizers."
Last year, farmers and eaters across the country spoke out about some major flaws in the originally proposed rules. And FDA apparently listened, making revisions and providing a second opportunity for the public to weigh in on two key components of FSMA before they're finalized: the Produce Safety Rule and the Preventive Controls Rule. As NSAC says, both would have "major potential impacts for sustainable farming."
According to NSAC analysis, the revisions to the Produce Safety and Prevention Controls Rules are an improvement from the first draft. But they're still lacking. As currently written, they will:
- Squash local food: the proposed rules unfairly burden local and regional food innovations, and limit opportunities for family farmers to launch and grow their businesses.
- Undermine sustainability: the proposed rules make it harder for farmers to use sustainable methods to protect soil, water and wildlife.
- Raise costs: the proposed rules impose major expenses on small farms and food businesses and lack fairness, clarity and consistency.
To ensure food safety, best practices are critical at every turn. But depending on the complexity of the supply chain, types of food, and the kinds of practices a farm or facility uses, different rules are needed. To really work, FSMA rules need to be cost-effective, science-based and scale-appropriate — and they can’t favor corporate agribusiness over family farms and food businesses.
Instead of a "one size fits all" approach, we ultimately need regulations and requirements tailored to different types and sizes of operations. This way, the rules will not only ensure a safe food supply, but also support strong on-farm conservation of natural resources and thriving family farms.
Take action» Before the FSMA comment period closes on Dec. 15, tell FDA to ensure that new safety rules support thriving, small scale and ecologically based farming. Speak up today!
Photo | Perla123, Pixabay