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Farmers Warn of Federal Regulatory Burden
Posted on: 09/23/2013
By  Mike Cullums
Some Ohio farmers are concerned about proposed federal food safety regulations they see as overly burdensome.
The US Food and Drug Administration wants to change the Food Safety Modernization Act, and claims that those changes would prevent as many as two-million food-borne illnesses.
But small family farms, like Northridge Organic Farm in Licking County, could incur expenses that owner Mike Laughlin says are simply higher than they can afford.  
"The added expense is going to drive an awful lot of farms out of business, and at a time when people are asking for more and more local food for their tables, it’s going to mean fewer venders available to sell to farm markets, fewer choices for consumers."
According to the FDA’s own estimate, a small farm would bear an initial cost of more than $27,000; then an annual cost of about $13,000. Laughlin says that would wipe out a good chunk of annual profits for small farms like his.
While he agrees food safety is important, Laughlin says the new rules favor big corporate farms and hurt family farmers, who will struggle to absorb the costs of new equipment and documentation.
"When you do have rules and regulations, they do need to be size-specific, and it can’t be a 'one size fits all.'"
Laughlin says it isn't just farmers who need to weigh in on the matter.
"For the consumers that are out there shopping at the farm markets, if it’s something that’s very important to you then you need to get involved and get a hold of the FDA, and let 'em know what you think."
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association has posted information on how to comment on its website: oeffa.org.
The FDA is accepting public comments on the proposed changes until November 15.
Information provided by Ohio News Connection

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