action alert: protect small farmers and food producers from FSMA regulations
You might not know it, but a legislative battle is being waged over who can produce food, where they can sell it, and when the government can shut them down. The most recent incarnation of this is a modification to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that will make it possible for the FDA to force small food producers to comply with complex and costly regulations. Thankfully, the Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance (FRFA) is organizing a push-back against these regulations that will make small food producers vulnerable to capricious government agencies, and, ultimately, harm the diversity of the food on the market.
Here is the Call to Action by the FRFA:
"We fought hard for the Tester-Hagan amendment to exempt small-scale, direct-marketing farms and artisan food producers from the most burdensome aspects of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This exemption is essential to the continued vitality of the local foods movement.
"Now the FDA is proposing rules that would make it very easy for the agency to force even small-scale farmers to comply with the onerous FSMA regulations, and all but impossible for these vulnerable farmers to protect themselves.
Consequences of the Proposed Rules
"Under the proposed rules, if the FDA decides to revoke the Tester-Hagan exemption and force a small-scale, direct-marketing farmer or artisan food producer to comply with the new federal requirements:
- The farmer or producer gets only 10 days to submit a written appeal;
- FDA does not have to grant the farmer or producer a hearing;
- FDA is not held to any specific standard for what evidence must be shown to justify the revocation; and
- The farmer must comply with all FSMA regulations within 60 days, and food producers must comply within 120 days; under either deadline, it will be impossible for most small-scale businesses to survive and stay in business.
"In practical terms, under the agency’s proposed rules, the FDA will be able to target small farms and food producers one-by-one and put them out of business, with little to no recourse for the farmers.
"This is the second round of proposed rules under the FSMA, and we objected to these same problems in the first round. While the agency has added a provision that allows the farmer or food producer to petition to re-instate the Tester-Hagan exemption, that could only occur after the farmer has already complied — which means that it would be too little, too late in most cases."
You read the rest of the Call to Action HERE.
You can also listen to Judith McGeary, Executive Director of the Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance, discussing the causes and implications of this regulation HERE
As a first stage of getting involved, you can sign FRFA's petition HERE!