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In Maine, farmers told FDA officials that proposed regulations would "impose onerous regulations on small Maine farms with no history of making people sick."
In Maryland, advocates argue the FSMA could spell doom for farmers markets.
And Washington State farmers echoed those on the East Coast.
Newspaper editorial boards around the country have also taken note. Many have been increasingly vocal in recent weeks in warning about dire consequences for small farmers under the proposed FSMA regulations.
The Kennebec (ME) Journal editorial board argued that the proposed FSMA regulations "would put undue strain on small businesses that have been a Maine success story in the last decade."
The editors of the Yakima (WA) Herald, meanwhile, warn that provisions requiring farmers "to test all irrigation water before it touches the surface of any fruit" could spell doom for the state's tree fruit farmers.
They note that while the proposed rules may make sense for fruits grown at ground level (like melons), the rules would force apple farmers and others to purify irrigation water at great expense and with little or no health benefits for consumers.
The Herald's editors point out the likely unintended consequences of adopting such a rule: It "could push smaller family growers out of the industry [and force them to] shift to other crops that are cooked or processed--potatoes and asparagus come to mind--which could alter the market dynamics of those commodities."
Michael Taylor, who heads the FDA's food safety efforts and who was at the Washington State hearing, told a local farmer who urged the FDA not to further burden him and his business not to worry.
“Rest assured, what you’re saying is being heard,” said Taylor.
But Taylor's I'm-from-the-government-and-I'm-here-to-help routine isn't convincing small farmers and their allies.
"The FDA’s proposed FSMA rules would impose significant expenses and paperwork burdens on farmers and food producers," says Judith McGeary, executive director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, by email.
"The implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, through its burdensome regulatory scheme, will result in the local food system losing market share to corporate giants producing inferior quality food," says Pete Kennedy, head of the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, also by email.
Any agricultural law should favor no particular size of farm and should allow farmers of all sizes to compete with each other for market share. The proposed Food Safety Modernization Act regulations will impose costly and inapt new requirements on small farmers.
Sen. Tester claims to have "won" a victory for small farmers. But right now it looks as if his win may yield nothing more than a bitter harvest.