It’s time to start talking about the new food safety bill and how it’s going to affect you. Food safety isn’t high on anyone’s list of exciting things to spend their free time reading about, but take a few moments, because how the law gets written this year will have a long-running impact on how small farms can operate.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law two years ago, is a plan to update food safety policy in a way that had not been done since the 1930’s. It’s culminating this year, with the FDA releasing it’s proposed rules, to be approved later this year. So far, two rules have been released as drafts:
- Produce Rule — standards for growing, harvesting, packing, and holding produce; and
- Preventive Controls Rule — requirements for food facilities, including on-farm processing.
How could these rules affect your farm? Pretty much every part of your day on the farm has to do with food safety. From sampling and testing your irrigation water to your food-processing room’s layout to how often you wash your harvesting tools – it’s all in there!
NYFC has been working with policy experts with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and other groups to analyze the new rules (which stretch over literally thousands of pages!) to discern how they will impact beginning farmers. Food safety is becoming a polarizing issue, with consumer safety being pitted against farm viability. Our hopes in this are to help the FDA craft something that provides the safety protections needed while not putting overly-onerous loads on small and beginning farmers.
We’ve got a month and a half before the comment period comes to a close. In that time, we want to hear from you so that we can write useful comments to the FDA! Got a question or idea for us? Head over to the FSMA discussion at the NYFC Farmers Forum.
In the mean time, there are some concrete things you can do:
- Get reading! The rules are available to read here. It’s not quite as engaging as E. L. James, but at least give it a quick skim!
- Spread the word! Start talking to other farmers about food safety and how these rules will affect you.
- Stay tuned to this blog! We will be publishing more pieces about the rules and asking for your input. So consider this a wake-up call!