Given the difficulty in passing a new five-year farm bill, dealing with the debt ceiling and a multitude of other issues, Congress should be familiar with the struggle of meeting deadlines.
Considering that fact alone, it should allow the Food and Drug Administration more time to finalize food safety regulations. There are other reasons to be patient, however.
FDA is creating regulations governing the future of the domestic and imported food supply, and even with all due deliberation, mistakes and unintended consequences are likely.
Produce industry leaders and state agricultural officials want to keep those mistakes at a minimum.
At the annual meeting of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture in September, members of the group urged Congress to allow FDA the ability to postpone finalization of this set of rules until a second draft of proposed rules can be published for public input.
The United Fresh Produce Association joined in that request.
The rulemaking process should not be rushed. True, the U.S. District Court in Northern California has set June 30, 2015, as the date final regulations related to the food safety legislation are due. The advocacy group Center for Food Safety was successful in arguing before the court that FDA illegally missed deadlines mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act.
State agriculture officials and United Fresh think Congress should make it clear to the U.S. District Court that the agency should have more time to work through the regulatory process with adequate stakeholder input.
They are right. Congress should give FDA more time to complete food safety rules.
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