Congressional Democrats are uring the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help small farmers comply with the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and 12 other lawmakers sent a letter to FDA’s Acting Commissioner Stephen Ostroff on Monday requesting the Agency implement technical assistance and training programs for small farmers, small producers, and fruit and vegetable wholesale merchants with regard to FSMA.
The primary concerns identified in the letter pertain to the new preventive controls for human food and standard for produce safety.
“Small farmers will need time, training, and relationships with regulators in order to effectively navigate new guidelines. Further, many small farms are diverse and have multiple profit centers—from produce, to value-added products, to dairy, to bakeries, and more,” the lawmakers said in their letter. “While we understand the preventive controls rule is still being developed, we feel strongly that the final rule provide clarity on what qualifies as a “facility” and what farmers must do to ensure compliance.”
In addition to Murphy and DeLauro, the letter was signed by Senators Al Franken (D-Minn.), Angus King (I-Maine), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Representatives Sam Farr (D-Calif.) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine).
“With the passage of the FSMA, Congress took a major step forward in shifting the focus of food safety from response to prevention,” they said. “But confusion and misinformation is already circulating, and establishing lines of communication to farmers or to organizations that partner with farmers about implementation deadlines, training opportunities, and future technical assistance is critical to timely and accurate compliance.”