Members provide input on 2 federal safety programs

Buckeye Farm News

Rules have been released on two major federal programs that aim to improve food safety and worker safety, affecting both farmers and consumers.

Food Safety Modernization Act

FSMA was created in 2011 in reaction to several large scale foodborne illnesses. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration was given the authority to regulate how food is grown, harvested and processed. The first two of seven main FSMA rules have been released, and the preventive control rule is significant because it clarifies and expands the definition of a farm. Overall, Farm Bureau supports this new definition, and it is expected this definition will be consistent throughout the rules.

The definition of farm covers two types of farm operations: primary production and secondary activities. These operations are typically exempt from the preventive control rule, which requires human and animal food facilities to develop and implement comprehensive written food safety plans that include hazard analysis, preventive controls and oversight and management of preventive controls.

In comments to the FDA, Ohio Farm Bureau detailed farmers’ concerns that their operations would be labeled mixed use facilities simply because they handle other people’s produce through farmers markets, produce auctions or CSAs to provide variety for consumers. Such a labeling would mean they had to comply with the preventive control rule.

Here is a full definition of primary production farm and secondary activities farm. An upcoming issue of Buckeye Farm News will take a close look at the FSMA produce rule, which at press time was expected to be released at the end of October.

Worker Protection Standard

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has made revisions to the Worker Protection Standard. The changes affect how the nation’s 2 million agricultural workers and families are protected when working with pesticides.

Among the highlights: Children under age 18 are prohibited from handling pesticides, workers’ rights training must be held every year instead of every five years, mandatory posting of no-entry signs for the most hazardous pesticides is expanded and there are new record- keeping requirements.

OFBF members from across the state participated in a conference call with American Farm Bureau to give guidance for AFBF’s comments to the EPA. Ohio Farm Bureau also submitted comments.

As of press time, Farm Bureau was reviewing the final WPS revisions and hoped EPA veered to a science-based approach in guarding against risk.

“Farm Bureau shares the agency’s desire to protect workers, but we are concerned that the agency is piling regulatory costs on farmers and ranchers that bear little if any relation to actual safety issues,” said Paul Schlegel, director of environment and energy policy for AFBF.

Access a five-page comparison of new protections to the existing protections.