Posted on Wednesday, September 24th, 2014 by Jeanne Merrill

This re-posted blog on new proposed food safety rules comes from our colleagues at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC).  These new rules come in response to the many thousands of comments that FDA had gone too far in its originally-proposed rules, which would have severely undermined natural resource conservation efforts on farms and ranches and put many sustainable and organic farmers out of business.  

As we grapple with climate change and its impacts on agriculture, moving forward we must embrace the multiple benefits and functions of agriculture.  That includes embracing biodiversity and natural resource protection that improves climate change resiliency and mitigation.  We cannot silo climate change and agriculture policy from food safety regulations and vice versa.  Below you will find more information on the latest from FDA and how you can get involved in efforts to support food safety regulations that embrace sustainable and organic agriculture.  

– CalCAN

On September 19, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released revised language for two major proposed rules detailing standards for farms that grow fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) and forfacilities that process food for people to eat.

Why is FDA revising the draft rules?

FDA’s originally-proposed rules, issued in January 2013, included several highly problematic requirements that would have put many sustainable and organic farmers out of business, dampened the growth of local food systems and innovative supply chains, and undermined farmers’ natural resource conservation efforts.  In response, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) and the sustainable agriculture community undertook an extensive public outreach and education campaign on the proposed rules, resulting in tens of thousands of comments to FDA from concerned farmers, food entrepreneurs, and consumers.

In large part due to that campaign last year, FDA announced that it would reexamine several critical areas of the FSMA proposed rules that have major potential impacts for sustainable farming.  The recently released proposals contain revisions that reflect FDA’s new thinking on such critical issues as water quality standards and testing; standards for using raw manure and compost; provisions affecting “mixed-use facilities” (farms that engage in value-added processing); and due process considerations for farms that are eligible for qualified exemptions from the new regulations.

From UC Berkeley, Kremen Lab.

What is NSAC doing in response?

Following the release of the re-proposals, NSAC put out a statement that highlights some clear improvements as well some concerns with the rules.  NSAC will be doing a complete and thorough analysis of the rules and will provide more information as we read through the re-proposed language in the weeks to come.

Everyone has a role in ensuring safe food from field to plate, and fair rules will help sustainable farmers continue producing safe, affordable, and healthy food.  We are analyzing the revised proposed rules to ensure in particular that they:

  • allow farmers to use sustainable farming practices, particularly on the contentious issues related to water, including irrigation water, and soil amendments like compost;
  • allow local food and farms to grow and thrive, by not subjecting them to inappropriate or excessive regulation; and
  • will treat family farms fairly, by having clear and fair procedures in place.

The rules will be officially published in the Federal Register on September 29, at which time the public comment period will begin.  The comment period will last for 75 days.  Hence there will be a mid-December deadline for submitting comments.

Where can I find more information?

For more information, visit our FSMA Action Center, which we will be updating over the next several weeks with updated analysis.

To stay informed about when and how to take action on the food safety rules, sign up for our action alerts.

Click here for FDA’s summaries and fact sheets for the revised Produce Proposed Rule and the Preventive Controls Proposed Rule.

You can download pre-publication copies of the rules here.

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