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Local Farmers Worry About New Produce Rules

Photo: Local California farmers say proposed new rules under the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) Food Safety Modernization Act may come down unfairly on sustainable and organic producers and on farmers who sell locally through farmersí markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), and farm stands. Photo credit: Full Belly Farm
Photo: Local California farmers say proposed new rules under the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) Food Safety Modernization Act may come down unfairly on sustainable and organic producers and on farmers who sell locally through farmersí markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs), and farm stands. Photo credit: Full Belly Farm
August 26, 2013

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Some California farmers are voicing concerns over the FDA's proposed implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act. They say the rules are excessive and may put small farmers out of business. Judith Redmond, the co-owner of Full Belly Farm in Guinda, sells her organic fruits and vegetables locally through farmers' markets. She worries that family farms like hers will be burdened by costs and regulations, and may have trouble staying afloat, leaving all food production to the largest producers.

"We think that the rules will be very difficult for organic and biologically diverse farming systems because they show a bias against the use of grazing animals and the use of compost," Redmond declared.

The FDA estimates the new rules will cost a mid-sized farm about $13,000 to comply. Redmond believes this could result in less consumer choice at the farmers' market and grocery store, as growers stop raising crops likely to come under stricter regulation.

Ken Kimes of New Natives Farm in Watsonville has been a small farmer for more than three decades, and switched from growing sprouts to microgreens after enduring multiple FDA inspections.

"You talk to any farmer who's dealt with the whole food safety thing, anything less than the large corporate farm, and they'll tell you it's just over the top with all the requirements and so forth," he said. "Some make sense, and some don't make sense."

The FDA has extended the public comment period on the proposed changes to November.

More information is at FDA.gov.


Lori Abbott/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - CA