The Alliance For Natural Health

The Pulse of Natural Health Newsletter

Stay informed about what is hot in Washington and the states about natural health

New Danger for Small, Organic Farmers?

7

Fake organics aren’t the only threat to farmers growing real food.

Next year, the FDA’s new produce safety rule will go into effect. This rule is part of the suite of new regulations that came about as a result of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that was signed into law in 2011.

The produce safety rule sets standards that farms must follow to minimize the risk of microbiological contamination that could occur in the course of growing, harvesting, packing, or holding fresh produce.

The problem is that the government does not seem to have a clue about how much this rule will cost small farms.

The USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) conducted a report analyzing the costs of complying with California’s Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA), a food safety program with specific safety requirements for producers of leafy greens. ERS used the LGMA as a proxy to understand what the potential costs of complying with the produce rule will be.

The report analyzed seven large farms that averaged close to $200 million in annual sales and found that compliance costs ranged from about $30,000 to $300,000. This isn’t a perfect comparison to the produce rule, as the LGMA includes some standards that are not in the produce rule. The produce rule, however, also covers other areas of production, though, so costs for compliance for the produce safety rule could in some cases be even higher.

The other problem is that ERS only looked at data from relatively large farms. What will the impact be on smaller businesses? The outlook isn’t good. The FDA’s preliminary economic analysis of the produce rule estimated that costs would be disproportionately higher for small farms. Small and very small farms, defined as operations with sales of $500,000 and $250,000 a year respectively, make up 80% of the farms that must comply with the produce rule.

This is not very encouraging, and shows that we were right all along: the FDA’s rules were written by and for the largest producers. Everyone else faces steep compliance costs that could very well put them out of business.

Some farms are exempt under the produce rule. (For an excellent explanation of the various exemptions, check out this explainer from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.) For the most part, farms that gross less than $25,000 in sales of produce do not need to comply. There is also the Tester-Hagan amendment exempting farms that 1) make less than $500,000 a year in total sales and 2) sell more than half of their products to local area consumers. ANH-USA worked with the natural health community to include this amendment in the final FSMA bill. The FDA of course undermined these exemptions where they could, but the amendment was an important inclusion.

Part of the problem is that regulation writers at the FDA have no knowledge of or experience on farms. They just sit in air conditioned DC offices and write rules that make no sense. For example, a new rule states that produce must be shipped in plastic containers, not the slatted wooden crates used for centuries. The reg writers no doubt think that this will better protect the food while being shipped. But it will also rot the food. No doubt this will eventually be recognized and changed, but only after the cost of buying so much plastic (which will no doubt end up in landfills) and replacing rotten produce has put the smallest producers out of business.

It could have been worse. ANH-USA was able, with the help of our dedicated activists, to stop Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) Food Safety Accountability Act, which established draconian fines and prison terms of up to ten years for “misbranding” or “adulterating” foods. Unfortunately what a normal person thinks these words mean is not what the agencies think they mean. For the agencies, they could include a minor and inadvertent record keeping error. Ten years in jail for that?—or only if you get on the wrong side of regulators or fail to give money to politicians?

 

Other articles in this week’s Pulse of Natural Health:

Senate Health Bill Action Alert

More Mainstream Media Censorship

 

Share.
  • Jeanne Smith

    The government is for itself and not for us. It is time for us to grow our own food or only from the farm directly.

  • Pat Martin

    It’s the goal of the government, to control and put healthy producers out of business. Sadly, poor health issues are money making. So, stop people from being healthy! Control, control, control. Just look at what they do to all farmers. It’s worse than sad.

    • bumblingjack

      the was an Obama goal, hopefully Trump will turn his eye to this sooner than later. He just needs to drain this part of the swamp fast

  • Sargam

    “The problem is that the government does not seem to have a clue about how much this rule will cost small farms.” Of course they do – they know very well. Government has been co-opted by Big Biz, whose primary goal is to protect its profits by inhibiting competition from smaller potential rivals. They create a political moat, using lobbyists aka. bribes. Of course, this is terrible for the economy’s resilience, choice, efficiency, fairness, and ultimately productivity – but what do they care? Judging how the most evil Corps. on the planet, after weapons manufg. – Big Biochem – was promoted to the very top by liberal “hero,” Obama – not very much.

  • gertrude van voorden

    The Codex Alimentarius demands radiation of produce at import/customs or possibly export. By law that is forbidden for organic produce is what my organic healthfoodshop told me years ago. However for years sprouting seeds i ordered from the UK. linseeds that come from abroad, quinoa from abroad, hemp from abroad, black beans and possibly many more, will not sprout. I just shrew away for tens of euros in sproutingseeds. Lentils and Mungbeans have no problem with sprouting, so it cannot be my system. Radiated food is close to worthless to our bodies/health. Who knows how many products from abroad, supplements even, are reduced to garbage that way. Reading this article i wonder what the requested measures are and whether those will add more toxins to organic products, the customer thinks are safe and healthy. That with daily Chemtrailing in my local area here in the Netherlands, where i have no clue, what toxins they are spraying and the weird weatherpatterns of torrential rain one day, heatwaves another, make me suspect things are speeding up to Cull the Empty feeders/Reduce worldpopulation. Next year France makes vaccinations mandatory.

    • livefree1200cc

      Fight it, vaccines should never be mandatory

  • White Widow 2007

    6 years in prison for mislabeling a salve….this happened in Ohio to an Amish gentleman…wake up folks, we are already living in a police state.