The New Food Safety Rules are Bad for Farms and Food

By: Jen O'Brien       Posted On: October 4, 2013

In 2010, Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This new legislation was put in place to update the rules and regulations governing the production and handling of our food supply. To implement FSMA, The FDA has spent the past three years creating a new set of requirements for food facilities—including farms—that handle or process food for human consumption. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), and dozens of other food and farm organizations have analyzed the new rules, and have found that they’re way off base.

FDA is proposing standards that undermine sustainable and organic production practices, subject many farms to regulations designed for industrial facilities, and may well prove too costly for farmers to implement and stay in business. The top ten major issues with the rules are:

  1. They’re too expensive. The rules could cost farmers over half their profits and will keep them from starting to farm.
  2. They treat farmers unfairly. FDA is claiming broad authority to revoke small farmers’ protections without any proof of a public health threat.
  3. They will reduce access to fresh, healthy food. Local food distributors like food hubs could close, and new food businesses would not launch.
  4. They make it harder for farms to diversify.  Grain, dairy, and livestock farmers could be denied access to emerging local food markets.
  5. They will over-regulate local food. The rules could consider farmers markets, roadside stands,, and community supported agriculture programs ‘manufacturing facilities’ subject to additional regulation
  6. They treat pickles like a dangerous substance. The rules fail to protect a host of low-risk processing activities done by smaller farms and processors.
  7. They make it nearly impossible to use natural fertilizers like manure and compost. Farmers will be pushed to use chemicals instead.
  8. They require excessive water testing on farms. Farmers using water from streams and lakes will have to pay for weekly water tests regardless of risk or cost.
  9. They could harm wildlife and degrade our soil and water. The rules could force farmers to halt safe practices that protect natural resources and wildlife.
  10. Bonus: there’s at least one good thing about the rules. The rules take an ‘integrated,’ not ‘commodity-specific’ approach –meaning farmers won’t face over 30 separate rules for each kind of fresh produce they grow. For more information about these ten issues, download the full length PDF:

Given the magnitude of the problems with the rules, NSAC is calling on FDA to issue a new, heavily revised set of proposed rules for both produce farms and preventive controls in facilities. FDA needs to hear your voice too! Take action today to protect your farms and food! NSAC has created the following materials to help you make your voice heard before the deadline of November 15, 2013:

FSMA 101: Overview & Background

For Farmers & Processors: Am I Affected?

Manure, Water & More: Learn More About the Critical Issues

We Need YOU: Speak Out Today!

Concerned Consumers Sign the Petition

FMC is hosting a FREE webinar at 1:00pm ET on October 17 to explain how the proposed rules will affect farmers markets and direct marketing farmers, as well as how to submit comments to make your voice heard. Market managers, farmers, and customers are encouraged to attend! Register today!

Additionally, NSAC will host a webinar on October 10th for all audiences. They’ll go over the rules more broadly, and provide instruction on how to submit comments. All FMC members are welcome to join either or both webinars. Register for NSAC’s here.

Help us spread the word and #fixFSMA!