Press Release: Groups Urge Congress to Address Food Safety Regulations

Judith McGeary, 512-484-8821

Groups Urge Congress to Address Food Safety Regulations in Farm Bill

Joint Letter Says FDA Needs to Analyze the Science and Economic Impacts

AUSTIN, Texas – September 10, 2013 – Thirty-nine farmer and consumer organizations sent a letter urging Congress to include a provision in the final Farm Bill that would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to do more analysis before enforcing rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The provision, sponsored by Representative Dan Benishek (R-MI), was included in the version of the Farm Bill passed by the House; a similar provision had been proposed by Senator Angus King (I-ME), but was not voted on by the Senate.

The FDA’s proposed rules set standards for on-farm activities in growing and harvesting produce, as well as establishing new Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventative Controls (HARPC) for food manufacturers, including farmers who process food on-site.

“Despite being told by Congress to base the rules on a scientific risk analysis, the FDA has failed to provide a sound scientific basis for many of the requirements, choosing instead to take an extremely fear-based approach,” said Judith McGeary, Executive Director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, a national advocacy organization that coordinated the sign-on letter.

“Farmers are allowed to establish alternatives for some of the requirements, such as those dealing with biological soil amendments and water, but only after going through the expense of conducting or finding research and testing on their own. In other words, in many cases, the farmers must do the FDA’s job in order to continue using farming methods that have been used for decades or even centuries,” added McGeary.

The letter notes that federal agencies are already required to do an economic analysis on proposed rules, but argues that the FDA’s analysis includes significant flaws.

“The FDA’s current analysis, of both the science and the economics, is inadequate,” states the letter collectively submitted by the thirty-nine organizations. “As just one example, in analyzing the economic impacts, the FDA assumed that small and very small farms only operate 3 months out of the year, with a harvest period of only 45 days. This is simply wrong with respect to the majority of the small farms in this country.”

The letter highlighted the high costs already estimated by FDA:

“According to the FDA, the average annual cost to comply with FSMA’s produce safety regulations for ‘very small farms’ will be $4,697 per year; the average cost for a ‘small farm’ will be $12,972 per year; and the average cost for a ‘large farm’ will be $30,566 per year,” notes the organizations’ letter. “These costs are simply not feasible for many farms, considering the low profitability of farming.”

With less than a month before the current Farm Bill expires, the fate of the Farm Bill remains unclear.

“Whatever happens with the Farm Bill, however, farmers and food producers are looking to Congress to address the overreaching rules proposed by FDA,” concluded Ms. McGeary.

Full text of the letter is posted at:

The following organizations signed on:
Alliance for Natural Health
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association
Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (MA)
Dakota Rural Action (SD)
Environmental League of Massachusetts
Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance
Farm Life Foundation
Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund
GROW North Texas
Illinois Stewardship Alliance
Keep Food Legal
Local Harvest
Long Beach Grows (CA)
Maine Alternative Agriculture Association
Maryland Farm Bureau
Massachusetts Farm Bureau
Michigan Land Trustees
Montana Farmers Union
Natural Environmental Ecological Management
Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society
North Country Sustainability Center, Inc.
North Missoula Community Development Corp. (MT)
Northeast Organic Farming Association – Interstate Council
Northeast Organic Farming Association – Massachusetts
Northeast Organic Farming Association – Rhode Island
Northern Plains Resource Council (MT)
Powder River Basin Resource Council
San Diego Roots Sustainable Food Project
Second Chance Foundation (NY)
Slow Food Austin (TX)
Slow Food First Coast
Slow Food Nebraska
Sustainable Food Center (TX)
Taos County Economic Development Corp. (NM)
Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
The Cornucopia Institute
Urban Harvest (TX)
Weston A. Price Foundation

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About Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance
Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (FARFA) is a national organization that supports independent family farmers and protects a healthy and productive food supply for American consumers. FARFA promotes common sense policies for local, diversified agricultural systems.