This is the era of high-tech farming, of traceability and good agricultural practices on the farm and in packing and shipping operations.
Yet the costs to government and producers are currently ill-defined. It is not clear if Congress will appropriate the estimated $1.4 billion needed to implement new regulations, or if the government will use the industry as its piggy bank by assessing fees.
Rest assured, industry leaders will again fight the good fight on that and we will attempt to point out existing mechanisms such as the LGMA, the newly formed California Cantaloupe Marketing Order and others that may be put to use to accomplish FDA and industry objectives without sweeping increases in cost.
This rising tide of government overregulation is troubling on many levels, but we will not be daunted.
The expansion of government should come as no surprise when so many voters see government intervention as positive, good and necessary. We will manage and influence this regulatory process.
Yes, it’s another mountain to climb. But I will say there is a benefit: If passing and implementing a mammoth food safety law results in increased safety, consumer confidence and consumption of the fresh produce we grow and sell, the Food Safety Modernization Act and all the attendant rules, policies, programs, etc., will be worth the time, effort and resources.
Tom Nassif is president of the Irvine, Calif.-based Western Growers Association.
What's your take? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.