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Veggie Farmer: New Food Safety Rules are an Over-reach

PHOTO: Vegetable grower Tim Huth says proposed new rules for food safety won't really do much to increase food safety, and could put small farmers like him out of business. Photo credit: Liz Setterfield, Third Coast Daily.
PHOTO: Vegetable grower Tim Huth says proposed new rules for food safety won't really do much to increase food safety, and could put small farmers like him out of business. Photo credit: Liz Setterfield, Third Coast Daily.
October 21, 2013

BOSTON - The new Food Safety Modernization Act became law early in 2011 and is now going through an implementation process that includes making new rules for food producers.

According to Tim Huth, who owns a vegetable farm, the proposed new rules are really going to hurt small to mid-size operations such as his.

"My end-users and eaters know me. They've been out to my place, they've walked around. We exchange information weekly; we eat the same food," he said. "It's not the case for somebody that's shipping it all over the country; they're much more removed, through seven or eight middlemen."

Huth noted that the new rules are at least partly a reaction to a number of food-borne illness outbreaks in recent years.

"None of these food-borne illnesses that we've seen across the country have been born from these small little farms that market in a very short area," he pointed out. "They've been grown out of industrial acreages and grown out of many, many, many, many middlemen. I don't know why we need to be on a par with those folks when it comes to our level of regulation."

According to Huth, the proposed new rules are far too restrictive and won't really improve food safety. All they'll do, he said, is restrict access to local food.

"Making it so that vegetables and fruits shouldn't really be grown in the backyard, even, they should only be bought from Dole; they should only be bought from Cal Organics," as he described the situation he foresees. "Why should someone growing a million dollars of corn not be able to also have a little farmer's market stand without having to build a $25,000 to $500,000 packing facility to wash those few carrots?"

Huth is concerned that the new rules will put a lot of small farms out of business and reduce the supply of fresh local produce to schools and hospitals. In particular, he said the rules regarding use of manure will force farmers to use chemicals rather than natural substances.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA