Another Regulatory “Obamanation”!

President Obama’s Food and Drug Administration is set to deploy another regulatory “Obamanation” if their proposed rules for implementing the Food Safety and Modernization Act are allowed to go into effect.  Below is a press release from the Oklahoma Food Cooperative outlining the issues and the negative impact we expect to experience in our local food systems, as well as instructions on how to protest by filing a comment with the FDA and contacting your congress people.\

Do not delay! Act today! The deadline for comments is November 15, 2013!

Oklahoma Food Cooperative
311 South Klein, Oklahoma City, POB 681, 73101, (405) 605-8088
Serving Oklahoma farmers and cooks for ten years with
the best food that is locally grown for a healthy home.

Press Release ““ for immediate use, November 4, 2013

For more information, contact Bob Waldrop at 405-200-8155 or bwaldrop1952@att.net. We can arrange media interviews with Oklahoma market gardeners.

Summary: Proposed FDA regulations governing the growing, harvesting, and distribution of fresh produce at farmers markets and food hubs may gravely harm the economic viability of Oklahoma’s small produce farmers.

Responding to food safety problems in the large scale conventional and imported vegetable production systems, the US Congress passed the Food Safety and Modernization Act in 2010. It included the Tester-Hagan Amendment, which protected small farms, farmers markets, and food hubs from compliance with the act, because there is no scientific evidence that small farms are contributing to the nation’s food safety problem. There has never been a USDA food recall in a local food system. Congress also believed that it is unjust to require small farms to comply with rules designed for very big production operations.

Unfortunately, the proposed FDA regulations to implement the act have so many loopholes and complications that it appears the exemption is being deliberately undermined by non-science based regulatory action. This will have grave consequences for Oklahoma’s farmers who produce for direct sale to the local food marketplace. The FDA proposals are inimical to economic freedom and are a classic case of regulatory over-reaction.

Bob Waldrop, President of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, gave this comment:

“This month the Oklahoma Food Cooperative celebrates its tenth year of connecting Oklahoma families with Oklahoma farmers. We were the first food coop in the United States to focus on locally grown and made food and non-food items. These proposed FDA regulations will hurt our ability to continue in business! Big business can better afford these regulatory costs than small businesses, and it is just that they bear those costs because that is where the food safety problems are found, not at your local market gardener growing and selling at the Oklahoma Food Cooperative. No one has ever produced evidence that the Oklahoma local food community has a food safety problem and they haven’t done that because the evidence doesn’t exist.”

Yesterday the Coop’s Board of Directors adopted a resolution opposing the regulations and encouraging everyone to comment to the FDA and contact their congressional delegation before the November 15, 2013 deadline for comments. A copy of the resolution is attached, which details our concerns about the act. Instructions for commenting online can be found at our website at http://www.oklahomafood.coop/Display.aspx?CN=fsmadetails.

RESOLUTION OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE OKLAHOMA FOOD COOPERATIVE REGARDING FDA REGULATIONS IMPLEMENTING THE FOOD SAFETY AND MODERNIZATION ACT.

WHEREAS the Food and Drug Administration is proposing regulations to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act, and has solicited comments about their proposed regulations, and

WHEREAS there is a general consensus in the local food communities across the nation that the proposed regulations may cause grave problems for food hubs and farmers who grow for direct sale to the public, to wit:

1. Implementation of their regulations, as proposed, will be too expensive for direct to market growers.

2. The Small Farm Exemption, required by the law, as proposed for implementation by the FDA, is too complicated and has too many loopholes that could result in a small farmer being forced out of business by being required by an inspector, who decides, without any due process, to remove the small farm exemption of that grower. Too much latitude is given to local inspectors to revoke the small farm exemption and require compliance which could drive small growers out of business. This regulation is in direct opposition to the spirit and letter of the FSMA which clearly requires the exemption of small growers from these new regulations. The exemption revocation process allows for only minimal due process that does not protect the farmer’s rights.

3. The rules would practically prohibit long standing organic production practices that are critical for sustainable agriculture.

4. The rules require excessive water testing and set unreasonable, non science based standards.

5. The proposed rules discriminate against diversified farms. They treat low risk activities as though they are high risk.

6. The rules lay excessive burdens on small food hubs such as our organization, the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, via a non-science based requirement for an expensive hazard analysis plan and annual monitoring.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of Directors of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, that —

1. The Tester Hagan amendment be strictly interpreted so that any farm with less than $500,000 in product sales that are covered by the FSMA are exempt from the provisions of these regulations. We oppose calculating this exemption by adding in the value of the sales of other products, not covered by FSMA rules, to determine the exemption threshold.

2. We oppose application of the preventive controls rules to food hubs with sales of less than one million dollars a year in produce covered by the FSMA rules. We oppose including the value of non FSMA-covered foods and non-food items in determining the exemption threshold.

3. We oppose any regulations that substantially prohibit sustainable agriculture methods or that discriminate against diversified farms.

4. We oppose all of the non-science-based requirements of these regulations and condemn them as attempts to distort the purpose of the law so that it discriminates against and suppresses small farms and protects large agricultural corporations from competition.

5. The President of the Cooperative is authorized to file this comment with the FDA.

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