As I make my way through my last semester of college, counting down the days until I receive my B.S. in Soil and Crop Science with a minor in Organic Agriculture, my mind often drifts to my small organic vegetable farm in Lewiston, Idaho. While many factors threaten the success of my agricultural enterprise, none pose more of a threat than the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). I have spent the past four years studying conventional and organic agricultural systems at Colorado State University and working for numerous small farmers with a wide range of production models. These experiences have led me to believe, like the FDA, that the country’s food system needs to change, but not in the way proposed by the FSMA.
The Food Safety Modernization Act will have a dramatic affect on the local and sustainable food movement. Specifically, the FDA’s suggested policies regarding manure and compost application, livestock-crop integration, water testing, farm system exemptions, farm vs. facility, and on-farm food processing will discourage small-scale and sustainable farming business because of the cost and risk associated with complying with these regulations.
Sustainable agriculture strives to address many of the challenges facing society today including, resource conservation, environmental stewardship, food security, public health, waste disposal, and economic localization. While food safety is also a serious societal concern, the FSMA threatens to undermine the progress of sustainable farmers for the sake of food safety alone.
If you love farmers’ markets, CSAs, urban chickens, composting, organic farming practices, or eating safe, local food then act now to protect your local farmers! The FDA’s comment period on the FMSA ends November 15 so it is crucial to get educated and act quickly. In an effort to educate the public about the dangers of the FSMA, I will post sections of my letter to the FDA on the River City Farm blog for the next two weeks. Please refer to the links below for more information on the FSMA.
Thanks for reading!
Helpful FSMA Links
To submit your comments to the FDA, visit this website: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=FDA-2011-N-0921 for electronic and mail-in submission options.