A new food safety regulation act, called the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the first major update to federal food safety laws since 1938 – and while food safety is a great goal, the way in which this act is written could devastate small farmers.
Why is it an issue and what can you do to help protect producers from unweildy and prohibitive legislation? Below are some of the top reasons, put together by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Find out more here: http://sustainableagriculture.net. And take action here: http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/5735/p/salsa/web/common/public/content?content_item_KEY=9861.
1. These regulations are cost-prohibitive for small farmers. They could cut already slim profits in half for small growers and prevent new farmers from farming.
2. The regulations do not require the FDA to have proof of a problem before acting – this means that the FDA could use the full force of the regulations on small farms, acting only on “suspicion”.
3. The definition of “very small businesses”, which would have modified regulations, is highly contested and would likely affect food hubs and local food distributors.
4. They make it harder for farms to diversify and expand into emerging markets.
5. They will over-regulate local food. Farmer’s markets, roadside fruit stands, and CSA’s could be considered “manufacturing facilities”, subjecting them to more regulations.
6. They treat low-risk value added processes on small farms, such as making pickles, the same as high-risk industrial level processing activities.
7. They make it nearly impossible for farmers to use natural fertilizers such as compost and manure and encourage the use of chemical fertilizers.
8. They require excessive water testing and farmers using water from streams or lakes will have to comply with weekly water test at extra cost, even when there is no proven increased risk.
9. The rules do not explicitly promote actions like native plant buffer zones and inspectors would have free reign to force farmers to abide by their personal rules, despite what might be the best conservation practice.