Congress should give FDA time - The Packer

Congress should give FDA time

09/27/2013 09:41:00 AM
The Packer Editorial Board

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.

Did The Packer get it right? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.

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Robert K    
California  |  October, 03, 2013 at 11:22 AM

YES, in part. At an absolute minimum, Congress should give FDA more time. It would be a little better, however, if FDA started over and wrote FSMA so that farmers could actually understand the rule. The current rule is a mess. Not one normal producer has read it, not even the industry association reps. Auditors think it will be okay but this is their bread and butter so what do they care. The grower rule alone is over five hundred pages long. The processor rule is the same. There are additional rules on top of that. FSMA tries to do more than the government can, in reality, accomplish, and FDA knows that. It regulates ultra-low-risk commodities like walnuts the same as high-risk commodities like spinach. FDA doesn't have the funding to administer the rule. The scary part is that someday it might have the funding to go after all of us. It's so broad and intrusive they could find something wrong anywhere. This is a constitutional overreach (first time growers have been told how to plant & harvest their crops) that was hurried through while Democrats were still in charge and signed into law by President Obama the day before Republicans retook the House. What NASDA and everyone else are not saying is that we have already had NINE MONTHS to review the rule! You would think that would be plenty of time for us to comment. If NINE MONTHS isn't enough time to review this monstrosity, then FDA should go back to the drawing board! But since Congress told them to regulate us to death, I say Congress should go back to the drawing board. NASDA and every ag group should be lobbying Congress to GIVE US OUR FREEDOM BACK! If they're dying to pass a food safety law, pass a traceback requirement. Everything else is un-American.

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