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Food Safety Modernization Act

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is a federal food safety law. The comprehensive measure grants the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) broad new power to enforce food safety standards on farms. It could impact produce growers, farms that aggregate product with other farms and farms that even minimally process what they produce.

FDA issued two sets of proposed rules for implementing FSMA in January 2013. After a comprehensive campaign by New England Farmers Union and its allies to improve the rules for diversified family farmers, the FDA released supplemental rules in September 2014. These rules appear to align better with NEFU priorities. However, while the revisions are an improvement, the current re-proposal includes rules that still put farmers and food entrepreneurs at risk of going out of business, while making sustainable and organic agriculture, local food, and conservation efforts the collateral damage.

 As currently written, the rules will:

  • Suppress local food: the proposed rules unfairly burden local and regional food innovations and limit opportunities for family farmers to launch and grow their businesses.
  • Undermine conservation efforts: the proposed rules make it harder for farmers to use soil and water conservation plans that enhance soil health, water quality, and wildlife habitat.
  • Raise costs: the proposed rules impose major expenses on small farms and food businesses and lack fairness, clarity, and consistency.

The two sets of rules that apply to human food are the Produce Safety Rule and the Preventive Controls Rule. The Produce Safety Rule seeks to reduce the food safety risks in raw produce (a summary from FDA on the supplemental rule’s altered provisions to the Produce Safety Rule is here). The Preventive Controls rule seeks to reduce risks in food processing (a summary from the FDA on the supplemental rule’s altered provisions to the Preventive Controls Rule is here).

NEFU has collaborated with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) on their comments, and have developed materials to help farmers, consumers, and organizations that work with farm and food entrepreneurs understand the significance of these proposed rules, and to outline how they will be impacted. The last comment period was extremely effective, thanks to thousands of people like you who submitted your thoughts to the FDA. The most recent round of commenting closed December 15, 2014. 

For more information on the new proposals and how they will affect you, visit: http://sustainableagriculture.net/fsma/

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