The short answer is yes. The new rules will impact the way our food is produced – everything from how seedlings are watered in the ground to how the finished product is marketed. So from the consumer perspective, we are all going to see some changes.
The real question, though, is for farmers and ranchers. Is your operation going to have to make changes? If you’re not sure, don’t feel alone! Farmers across the country are emailing in, confused about exactly how the laws will influence their farm operations. So here is a brief guide to helping you figure out if the Produce Rules (only one of the several rules, but this is the one most likely to affect NYFC members).
(Please note that this article is intended for guidance only – for more complete analysis of how the rules will influence your farm, contact your local USDA office.)
Do you grow, harvest, pack, or hold produce? If yes:
- You are not impacted if:
- You are only growing for personal consumption,
- or if the average annual monetary value of the food you sold during the previous 3-year period is no more than $25,000,
- or if the produce you grow is processed (ie, cheese, pickles, etc) before sale. In this case, look into the Preventive Controls rule instead
In this case, you should still follow along – in a few years you may fall into a different category!
- You are partially impacted if:
- You make less than $500,000 in gross annual sales (NOTE: this is sales, not profit!) and the majority of the food is sold directly and locally,
- or your produce will undergo commercial processing intended to kill pathogens
In this case, you are still subject to some rules on labeling and marketing (and you also have the potential to lose your partial exemption at the USDA’s discretion)
- You are fully impacted if:
- You do not fall into either of the above categories.
In this case, there may be a lot of changes coming your way. Learn more about the rules here! (Keep in mind that even if you are exempt or partially exempt today, in a few years, will you be falling into a different category?)