We are now launching a small campaign to encourage our customers and community members to educate themselves about the proposed rules, then write and submit their comments to the FDA. We believe that the rules, as written, could significantly alter the way we farm. We have been farming organically for 40 years and have grown our business as well as the organic farming community in our region, and we risk seeing all of this collapse if these proposed rules become law.
For an introduction to these issues, check out a couple recent articles written about Jim and the proposed rules, and our recent encounters with the FDA.
The first article, FDA vs. Farmers: Small Farmers Worried, was published in early September in a local paper, discusses some of the proposed rules:
"The bureaucrats seem to be running roughshod over a situation they don't understand," said Jim Crawford, who grows certified organic produce on 95 acres in Fulton County. "I don't know how we could use manure at all. The standards for using water irrigation are just not possible."
Crawford also said he would have to set aside fields for nine months after applying manure as fertilizer.
"Manure is our primary source of nutrients," he said. "It's the foundation of this farm's fertility. We've been building the soil for over 40 years."
He follows certified-organic restriction of applying manure more than 120 days before harvest for a crop that touches the ground, more than 90 days if it doesn't.
"The reasoning is that manure contains dangerous microorganisms that make people sick," he said. "On the other hand, speaking from my experience as a farmer, we're in daily contact with this manure our whole lives. How can it be that toxic if we're exposed to it every day? What about the reality of being on the farm? How can this manure be as dangerous as you say it is?"
"Short supply chains are safer," said Brian Snyder, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. "When you have less handling, less packing and less time, you reduce the risk. We think the rules should start with that assumption and go from there. What's important is a microbiological balance, not a search-and-destroy method of getting (the microbes) out. "
We will be writing more about these issues in the coming weeks, up to the November 15th deadline. For more information, please see the following links! And if you have any questions/concerns, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or talk to your farmer at market this weekend. We will soon be passing out info sheets with more details and instructions on how to submit comments.
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's SPEAK OUT TODAY site on FSMA.
Brian Snyder's recent blog posts FSMA Rules Unfair to Farmers, Bad for Public Health, and Moment of Truth for Farmers