Steve Hirsch, second from left, told U.S. House lawmakers that efforts to address food safety should be practical.

OFBF’s Hirsch testifies on Capitol Hill

Buckeye Farm News

New food safety system should be flexible says Ohio farmer

Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF) First Vice President Steve Hirsch believes that a single, one-size-fits-all national food safety system simply won’t work in the United States. He made that point last month while testifying before  a U.S. House Ag subcommittee.

Representing OFBF and the Ohio Produce Growers and Managers Association, Hirsch said a system that allows for specific on-farm practices to be developed at the state level will achieve the best results.

“In my view, compliance is the key to the success of any new food safety system and any new system should be flexible in nature so growers can comply,” said Hirsch, whose family operates two farm markets in southern Ohio. “Ohio produce growers vary in size, ranging from larger operations that grow, pack and ship their produce both in state and across state lines to very small farmers who sell all their produce directly to the local public.”

He said farms are located in both rural areas and suburbs, and that some are on the shores of Lake Erie, while his own is literally on a mountaintop in southern Ohio. “Some irrigate from surface water, others use ground water, some are near livestock operations and there are others nowhere near livestock,” he said. “As we move forward in improving upon the safest, most abundant food system in the world, let’s remember to be practical, cost-effective, use sound science, allow flexibility for states to work with growers in developing best practices and recognize, embrace and build upon the diverse food production system we have in this country,” he said.

Other recommendations:

Allow flexibility per best management practices as different growing regions vary significantly.

The federal government should fund and study the most appropriate and safe practices before moving forward.

Any new program should be coordinated with state departments of agriculture or other agencies responsible for food safety.

The development of any new system should consider the economic impact on various size operations and be economically viable within existing industry structures.

“Ohio Farm Bureau would also like to recognize Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, ranking member of the Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture,” said Adam Sharp, OFBF senior director of legislative and regulatory policy. “We very much appreciate her interest in food safety issues and her work in making sure that any new systems work for Ohio producers and result in measures that truly do improve food safety for consumers.”


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