It is time to comment on some proposed regulations again.
Remember when the federal organic rules were proposed and they included GMO seeds, sewage sludge, and irradiation ? A flood of comments stopped that from becoming part of the NOP rules. This time it is The Food Safety Modernization Act.
The FDA, a revolving door for corporate ag ( don’t believe me ? do an online search for ‘ fda revolving door big food’ ) is proposing rules for food safety on small farms. Not only are they out of control, they seem to have no idea that most food is actually grown in dirt.
All this came about due to the e coli spinach scare in 2006. Remember that after waiting until all the contaminated spinach had been eaten the Feds declared a recall. Now the federal government has leapt into action again and proposed a solution to a problem that doesn’t address the issue.
Disclaimer: I am not an anarchist. Government has a role to play. I believe that at least some portion of our taxes are the price we pay for living in a civil society. Etcetera. I do have a tin foil hat, but I reserve that for special occasions.
The issue is large corporations handling huge amounts of food and shipping it all over the country with short term profit as the only goal that stock holders appear to recognize.
Food safety is important. Especially for small farms. How many of you would buy from me if you knew you or one of your customers got sick from eating my produce ? My guess is none. Since Mary and I are not a kazillion dollar corporation, that would be a real problem. Trust me, food safety is important.
If you search for ‘e coli spinach’ or ‘e coli beef’, you don’t find small farms showing up at the top of the results. It is big companies that handle tons of product and ship all over the country. Small farms can and do have problems, but they do not affect thousands of people in several states.
Back to the issue at hand. When it comes to ag policy, I have never seen a bunch of people who are so out of touch with that is actually happening as the Congress, the FDA and the USDA. Not funding food stamps ?! GMOs, etc. in organics ? Subsidizing the wealthiest farmers the most, trade policy, the list goes on and on. But these proposed FDA regs are seriously off the rails.
Some of the big issues are: the lack for due process in withdrawing small farm status, the way that small farm status is figured, manure handling requirements, the definition of a ‘facility’, conflict with conservation practices, and the cost for a small farm to comply.
A good place to start to learn more is Harriet Behar’s column in the Organic Broadcaster.
( you might have to copy and paste the above URL).
Another good resources is The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
The National Organic Program is a mess. Largely due to corporate influence in the decision making process. The Food Safety Modernization Act is simply another step in the unstated policy of “Get Big or Get Out” to benefit big ag. These people, who are far removed from where their food comes from and only hear from ‘people’ with money ( corporations are people now and money is not property or a modicum of exchange, it is speech) are deciding what is best for you and me.
Here is the hard part. You are going to have to do some of your own research and write a comment letter to the FDA. And the deadline for doing anything is the 22nd . You have to get cracking. Please move this up on your to-do list.
We have to speak up and let them know what is happening out here in the real world. Please write a comment by next Friday.
Thanks for reading this far. I hope you will continue to help preserve local small scale agriculture.