Farmers know all about clearing and leveling out fields in order to plant crops.
But the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) seems determined to keep the playing field for small farmers decidedly unlevel. If we don’t intervene, the FDA could put countless small farmers out of business.
It all has to do with something called the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The FSMA is geared toward applying one-size-fits-all regulations to farms, regardless of how large or small those farms are.
Last year this time, in response to complaints from consumers, farmers and other groups, the FDA announced plans to revisit the rules. Fast forward a year, and the issue now is the Tester-Hagan amendment which would exempt small-scale, direct-marketing farms and artisan food producers from the most burdensome aspects of the FSMA.
But now the FDA, instead of respecting the intent of the Congressionally mandated Tester-Hagan amendment, is proposing to implement the amendment in a way that will allow the agency to target small farms and food producers one-by-one and put them out of business—with little or no recourse for the farmers. Small farms that produce healthy food are the key to healthy, economically sustainable communities. We should do everything in our power to make them flourish. So why is the FDA writing rules guaranteed to do just the opposite?