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December 07, 2016
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Food safety: a tale of regulatory abuse

Likewise, critics of the rules point to small mom-and-pop food entrepreneurs who will face impractical and costly testing and treatment requirements. The FDA calculates that 73% of the costs of the new rules for food facilities will be carried by businesses with 20 or fewer employees, even though they produce just 4% of the food consumed in the U.S. Clearly the FSMA favors big food corporations that can cover these costs thanks to economies of scale. (It is worth noting that these same large food corporations would be none too sorry to see their smaller local and regional competitors close.)

Last week we wrote an editorial about Sullivan County’s efforts to build a local food system with infrastructure like the new slaughterhouse to support livestock farmers, a food hub and an incubator kitchen. This week we are expressing concern for these kinds of efforts. FSMA compliance costs for food hubs are estimated at as much as 8% of these facilities’ annual sales, and the proposed rules for local food hubs are the same as for manufacturing plants with 499 employees.

Finally, the rules appear to have been written by people who know little about farming. Take, for example, rules that would make it almost impossible to use compost and manure fertilizer on produce farms; applying manure to a field would mean not harvesting a crop from that field for nine months.

At a time when consumers, farmers and food entrepreneurs are partnering in a burgeoning local food movement to build a network of profitable small- and medium-scale farms that will serve local and regional markets, the proposed FSMA rules threaten to undo important advances.

We suggest that if you are a farmer, or if you are interested in supporting local farmers, then send your comments to the FDA before November 15. If you feel you do not know enough to comment, at least consider checking out FarmAid’s suggested action regarding FSMA at this shortened link: bit.ly/1a1iMMP.

[Editor’s note: The facts and figures in this editorial come mostly from NSAC and from the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA). Citizens can find research on FSMA at this website (sustainableagriculture.net/fsma/speak-out-today/) including suggestions for how to comment on the FDA’s proposed rules.]

For other reading on this topic, see: