MOFFA Members on the New Federal Regulations that could Threaten Local Farms

Bees love the sunflowers in my Maryland Garden
Bees love the sunflowers in my Maryland garden

Maryland Organic Food and Farming Members Mike Tabor and Nick Maravell speak out about how new federal regulations could threaten local farms.

“Each week at farm stands in the Maryland area, we try to explain a peculiar situation to our customers. On the one hand, they want to buy our fresh fruit and vegetables. However, I tell them, that in a few years, these will all be illegal to sell!

Why?

Because they have some degree of dirt and bacteria on them. The strawberries for instance, have some trace amount of straw and soil on them. As do the tomatoes, beans and cucumbers. We do rinse them before leaving the farm — but we won’t put them through a disinfectant bath nor pack them in antiseptic plastic containers and put “PLU” labels on them. That’s not what consumers want at a farm market — nor is it something we’ll ever be able to do.

Regulations for a new food law — FSMA, the Food Safety Modernization Act — administered by the FDA are currently in the process of being finalized. Although the act originally had protections for family farmers like myself, we see those being ignored or phased out over time.

Common sense and following the data of recent food safety scares lead us to a very strong conclusion: the further the food travels from the farm to the consumer, the more opportunities it has to become a food safety problem. The current cyclospora food poisoning problem in bagged salads is a good example.

This is one reason why 20 million consumers come to farmers markets like ours and want fresh produce from our fields — preferably grown without pesticides, herbicides or GMO seeds. And sadly, protecting consumers from these synthetic perils is not addressed by FSMA.”

Read the entire article in the Gazette.

What will new FDA Food Safety Rules mean for small, local, and organic farmers?

Demeter  at the Maryland Department of Agriculture Building, where the Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association  Annual Winter meeting will be held on February 16, 2013, from 8 to 5.
Demeter, Greek Goddess of Agriculture, at the Maryland Department of Agriculture Building, where the Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association Annual Winter Meeting will be held on February 16, 2013, from 8 to 5.

The MOFFA Annual Winter Meeting is February 16, 2013, at the MD Dept. of Agriculture Bldg., Annapolis MD  it will run from 8 to 5. The event includes a panel in the afternoon, from 1:40 to2:40 p.m., to discuss the new FDA Food Safety Rules, and what they mean for small, local, and organic farmers.   Click here to find more details about MOFFA Annual Winter Meeting.

What will new FDA Food Safety Rules mean for small, local, and organic farmers?

Find out how the proposed rules could affect your growing, harvesting, on farm processing and post-harvesting handling practices.  Find out what new labeling and record keeping requirements you may have to meet for sales on farm, at farmers markets, and to retailers and wholesalers.  Learn about exemptions from certain requirements.

Presenter:

Ariane Lotti, Assistant Policy Director, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

Panelists:

Mike Tabor, Licking Creek Bend Farm, Needmore PA and Takoma Park, MD

and

Deanna Baldwin, Program Manager, Food Quality Assurance, Maryland Department of Agriculture

Ariane Lotti,

Ariane coordinates NSAC’s policy campaigns including organic and food safety issues.

She holds a B.A. and a Master of Environmental Management from Yale University.  She has served as the Policy Director for the Organic Farming Research Foundation.  She is a published author, and has worked on and conducted research on organic and conventional farms in the US and Europe.

Mike Tabor

Since 1972, Michael Tabor has been producing local fresh food for DC area residents of mixed income groups using organic methods.   Mike has also been active in many causes to advance environmental and social justice, including access to healthy local food for inner city populations.

Deanna Baldwin

Deanna is responsible for the Maryland Organic Certification Program as well as other grading and certification programs, including Fruit and Vegetable Grading, Egg Grading, and Good Agricultural Practices/Good Handling Practices Certification.  Deanna has a broad perspective on issues of food safety and local and organic production practices across Maryland.