With the continued popularity and importance of farmers markets around the country, it would seem logical that our government would put in place policies to protect these treasured institutions and the people who supply them the food.
The problem, however, is that the success of local and organic farmers markets is a serious threat to Big Agriculture. These massive companies would prefer that our entire diet consist of nutritionally-devoid, genetically-modified soy and corn instead of healthy organic produce grown by local farmers.
Since Big Ag has such influence with our government, we are constantly up against unnecessary regulation that threatens to slowly destroy our industry while protecting theirs.
The latest example of this are the FDA’s new proposed rules under the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA), a sweeping piece of legislation that was passed in 2010 but since then very little has been done with it……until now.
In summary, the new rules would threaten time-honored, local and organic agricultural practices such as:
• The use of natural fertilizers, like compost and manure
• Raising vegetables and animals on the same farm
• The use of natural water sources for irrigation
The FSMA also proposes a Preventive Controls rule that requires any business that packs, holds, processes or manufactures food to create a Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventive Control plan, which can cost up to $20,000 for a small operation in the first year alone. Who would be impacted?
• Any farm that dehydrates, pickles or mills its produce
• Two or more farms that run a joint CSA and handle or store each other’s produce (even if they do no processing)
• “Food hubs” that distribute food from multiple local producers
For small local and organic farmers, these additional costs could put them out of business. That means their livelihoods will be destroyed and consumers will have less access to nutritious, organic food.
Interestingly, these new rules would only apply to vegetable producers, not animal farms. And as you may be aware, the horrendous Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs – see video below) are where the very serious food safety problems stem from, not from small organic farmers. Yet, it is the small farmers that get targeted while CAFOs and Big Ag remain protected.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
We have until November 15th, 2013 to let the FDA know that these proposed rules are completely unacceptable.
There are several things that you can do.
1) Sign the electronic petition from the Organic Consumers Association to the FDA by clicking HERE.
2) On the Farm & Ranch Freedom Alliance’s website, they provide instructions on how to submit comments by regular mail or directly to the FDA’s website. Click HERE and scroll down the page for instructions.
3) Contact your elected officials in Washington, D.C. and let them know that (a) you want these new FSMA rules to be rejected and (b) you want local and organic farmers to be protected.
We all want a safer food system but the problem is not with local and organic farmers. The problem is with industrial food companies who remain completely protected because they have a stranglehold on politicians and government agencies in Washington.
It is essential that we all take a few minutes to help fight for the food system that we all depend upon for our good health. Thanks so much for your concern and participation.