Please help! The Tester-Hagan amendment exempts small-scale, direct-marketing farms from the most burdensome aspects of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This exemption is essential to allow small farmers to interact with the public and provide food for those who choose to purchase directly from a small farmer. This is now in jeopardy again and we need your help!
No Standards For Justification of Revoking of the Amendment
Importantly, there are no standards for justification of revocation of the amendment. This means that the FDA can enforce the revocation at will.
In practical terms, under the agency’s proposed rules, the FDA will be able to target small farms one-by-one and put them out of business, with little to no recourse for the farmers.
Any On Site Food Making Can Be Targeted
The same issues apply to small-scale food manufacturers. Under the FDA’s definition, “manufacturers” include people who make dried fruits, pickles, breads, or any other food that is processed in any way, including farmers who are making value-added products.
The FDA’s justification for the short deadlines and lack of due process is that quick action is needed “in the interest of public health.” But that’s simply not true. Under the statute, FDA can withdraw an exemption not only in cases of a foodborne illness outbreak, but also if the agency determines it is needed to “prevent” an outbreak “based on conduct or conditions” at the farm.
While some cases may involve urgent situations, others will not. Moreover, for the cases that do actually require quick action, the agency has other methods – such as seizing or detaining the food – to protect the public health. The agency’s proposed regulations are not necessary and create a constant threat to small farmers of being put out of business in just a few short months without even an opportunity for a hearing.
Please Act Now
The FDA is accepting public comments before it finalizes the proposed rules. Please submit a comment telling FDA to respect the Tester-Hagan exemption and ensure due process for small-scale farmers and food
Sample comments and more information are below. Here’s how you submit comments to the FDA online:
More Ways To Take Action
Some members of Congress are considering actions to rein in FDA, so it’s very important to tell your U.S. Representative and U.S. Senators about your concerns for farmers and local food producers.
Send all three officials a copy of your comments to the FDA. Include a personal note at the beginning, asking them to support efforts to require FDA to re-write its regulations to protect small-scale producers. In addition, the rules need to be re-written so that mid-sized family farms are not crushed under overly burdensome regulations that are not based on sound science; we will send future alerts with more details on those aspects, as well.