After Flood of Letters, FDA Takes a Step Back:

Portland FSMA party pic

Portland-area farmers sitting down last October to write letters to the FDA about proposed new food safety regulations.

The FDA responded last month to the tens of thousands of comments that poured in last year by taking a step back in publishing its proposed food safety rules.

The 3,500+ pages of new regulations drew critique from many different angles, but the beginning farmer perspective – that the new rules would create an impenetrable obstacle to starting a new farm business through onerous water-testing requirements, amendment restriction and more – was one of the strongest.

As members of the NYFC community, you can take pride in having been a part of that victory.  Participants in the National Day of Action to Save Local Farms drove as many as 1,000 comments to the FDA offices, calling for reform and reanalysis before the rules went into place.  Well, the FDA listened.

As summarized by the administration, “Based on our discussions with farmers, the research community and other input we have received, we have learned a great deal, and our thinking has evolved. Everyone shares the goal of ensuring produce safety, but, as we said at the beginning of the process, the new safety standards must be flexible enough to accommodate reasonably the great diversity of the produce sector, and they must be practical to implement.”

 “And because of the input we received from farmers and the concerns they expressed about the impact of these rules on their lives and livelihood, we realized that significant changes must be made, while ensuring that the proposed rules remain consistent with our food safety goals.”

Michael R. Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine

While new regulations will still be going into effect (by mandate of Congress, so the FDA doesn’t have the option to scrap the plan entirely), they will be asking for a second round of comments later this year on certain key provisions that need the most change.  According to a press release by the administration, the areas of the rules that drew the more ire were:

  • water quality standards and testing,
  • standards for using raw manure and compost,
  • provisions affecting mixed-use facilities, and
  • procedures for withdrawing qualified exemptions from farms

You can read the full press announcement here.  NYFC will be keeping you up-to-date with the FDA’s plans to move forward, so stay tuned right here!

 

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