National Farmers Union (NFU) president Roger Johnson submitted comments regarding concerns with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) proposed rules for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). FDA also announced yesterday that it has extended the comment period to Nov. 22.
“NFU supported passage of FSMA, the first major overhaul of food safety legislation in more than 70 years, and we appreciate that FSMA moves the food safety system from reaction to prevention,” said Johnson. “It is now a matter of establishing regulations to effectively achieve these goals without overreacting to recent outbreaks of foodborne illness in such a way that jeopardizes the livelihoods of family farmers.”
Two of the pending rules for FSMA, the Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption (Produce Rule) and the Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls For Human Food (Preventive Controls Rule), have attracted the most attention from NFU’s family farmer members.
“NFU raises concerns about the definition of farms in the rule, as well as the basis for testing requirements and quality standards for agricultural water,” said Johnson. “The comments also urge FDA to reduce the interval that prohibits the application of biological soil amendments before harvesting produce and asks for clarity in how alternative compliance proposals will be considered.”
Furthermore, NFU seeks a second comment period on the rules so that farmers and growers may provide additional feedback to smooth the implementation process for FSMA.
“Great care must be taken when finalizing regulations of this scale, and because of the importance of FSMA to the future of US agriculture, a set of revised rules should be published and made available for comments from stakeholders,” said Johnson. “FSMA is a well-intentioned and important evolution of our food safety system, we ask that the aforementioned comments be considered before proceeding further in the rulemaking process, in the hopes that improvements to consumer confidence in the food supply not come at the expense of family farm agriculture.”