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 1930. With food borne illness so prevalent and so preventable, the FDA is using the FSMA as a way to hold producers accountable in every step of food production.
Having spent the past two years on it, the FDA released its proposed rule changes this month and is seeking public comment. While food safety may not sound very exciting, many of these changes could have an impact on the way your farm operates. The comment period lasts until May 16th, 2013, after which the FDA will be reviewing comments and then issuing a final rule. NYFC needs your help in putting together a young farmer perspective on the rules.
The FDA has identified five major areas of risk that it is focusing on:
- Agricultural Water: new methods to make sure it is safe and adequately sanitary for use on food and regularly tested for pathogens
- Biological Soil Amendments: animal compost must be applied under new restrictions and in the correct timeframe to reduce risk of transmitted disease
- Health and Hygiene: farm personnel must use appropriate hygienic practices, and farms need to make facility improvements to ensure hygiene is achieved.
- Domesticated and Wild Animals: farms must take action to prevent produce contamination from working animals, domesticated animals and wild animals during production and prior to harvest
- Equipment, Tools and Buildings: must be clean and sanitary, with additional regulations on cleaning processes and record-keeping.
While FSMA as a whole covers all farms, there are size exemptions for smaller farms, giving them reduced requirements.
The National Young Farmers’ Coalition will be submitting an organizational comment to the FDA, but first we would like to hear from you! How will these new rules affect you? Are there certain areas or methods of production that will be unnecessarily hindered? Join the discussion at the Young Farmers’ FSMA Forum.
As you read through it, take a look at some of the common questions or areas of concern highlighted by NYFC staff. These are just a start to help you get a sense of the rules and to help you analyze how the rules will affect your operation.
Most importantly, please join the discussion about FSMA with other young and beginning farmers! NYFC established a discussion forum specifically for this issue to allow for conversation, concerns and questions. Feel like an issue needs to be raised? Need further clarification on a topic? Join other farmers from around the country at the Young Farmers’ FSMA Forum in making sure these rules are the best they can be.