Equal treatment of domestic and foreign growers, the need for extensive education, training and technical assistance and agricultural water provisions are among farmers’ top concerns as they implement the Food Safety Modernization Act’s produce rules, according to Bob Ehart, senior policy and science advisor with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. Ehart spoke to farmers and ranchers from across the country during the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 2017 Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show.
Signed into law in January 2011, FSMA focuses on the prevention of foodborne illness including risk-based “preventative controls,” and provides new enforcement authorities such as the ability to ensure the safety of imported foods and to regulate produce. The law directs the creation of an integrated food-safety system in partnership with state and local authorities.
As straightforward as Congress’ objectives may have been in crafting FSMA, the rules are exceptionally complex.
“There’s a whole lot of detail in these rules. It’s going to be very difficult to figure out where you fit and what’s expected of you,” cautioned Ehart. “There is a logic associated with it; It’s just not a farmer’s logic.”
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