OFBF expresses concerns about food safety procedures

Buckeye Farm News

Ohio Farm Bureau is urging the Food and Drug Administration to prepare an agricultural cost/benefit analysis before moving forward with plans to enact new food safety procedures.

OFBF’s suggestion is part of comments to the FDA this summer about its new proposed food safety regulations that detail how fresh fruits and vegetables should be grown, harvested and packed. The new regulations could require growers to follow specific on-farm food safety procedures when growing and packing produce. The goal is to reduce the risk of food contamination at the farm level.

Farmers always take food safety seriously and utilize good farm practices and food safety measures on the farm, fields and markets, said Adam Sharp, OFBF’s senior director of legislative and regulatory policy.

A major concern with the FDA’s proposal is that it will be a one-size-fits-all approach, he said.

“Ohio produce growers vary in size and structure ranging from large operations that grow, pack and ship their produce both in-state and across state lines to very small farmers such as the Amish who sell most of their produce directly to the local public,” Sharp said. “All have many questions and concerns regarding this FDA proposal.”

Farmers who run small produce auctions also are concerned about the proposal, saying it needs to be flexible enough for them to continue to operate and provide their service to growers, Sharp said.

“The FDA proposal also needs to be implemented in a way that does not impair farmers’ ability to export produce, keep recordkeeping requirements about food safety confidential and not result in an increase of fees or fines for farmers to carry out the requirements,” he said. “FDA also should work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in developing and coordinating the plan, which should take the form of good agricultural practices rather than federal or state mandates.”

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