Small Farmers and New Food Safety Rules

Proposed new food safety rules are troubling to small farmers. Driven by some recent (since 2006) food contamination and disease issues, the FDA has proposed new rules for food safety.

This morning, NPR did this report.

One of the comments on NPR’s website reflects my concern:

Small farmers should continue to push back–harder and harder. As the owner of a small independent pharmacy, I deal with regulations that are designed to stop fraud, but do absolutely nothing but increase my paperwork. Just to sell a few blood glucose test strips to Medicare patients, I would have to be “accredited”. That means paying an accrediting agency thousands of dollars AND producing hundreds of pages of handbooks that do nothing. For my five employees (including myself) administrative documentation and mandatory redundant training wastes untold hours.

I fear that food costs could go the way of medical costs: documentation and “CYA” will make it unaffordable.

Although I have not done any research on the past food safety data, it appears from media attention that the most significant problems are from large scale agriculture, and the time delays and transportation involved in large scale food distribution.

That all farmers should exhibit good food safety practices makes complete sense…that the FDA creates an entirely new bureaucratic regulatory framework for common sense food practices at a small scale makes no sense.

My guess is competent research would show that good food safety risk management would show the greatest risks – by far – are with large scale agriculture and food processing.

My second guess is that additional regulatory processes and paperwork would only marginally reduce risks in large scale agriculture and food processing – even if the FDA were going to adequately staff and enforce regulations (which I think is extremely difficult in our current economy).