FDA rethinks new farm-based safety rules

December 20, 2013

For more information, contact: John Bott at (207) 287-3156

State officials pleased that Maine voices were heard

AUGUSTA – State officials applauded the decision of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reevaluate the new food safety rules impacting farmers in Maine. They also thanked Maine producers for speaking up about the potential impact of the rules and Maine’s congressional delegation for calling for public input.

“The FDA decision to revisit water quality standards and testing, in particular, is a welcome development and an acknowledgement that the voices of Maine producers have been heard,” said Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) Commissioner Walt Whitcomb. “Before the FDA listening tour, the proposed rules were headed in a direction that was not helpful to local producers. Particular thanks go to the farmers and producers who made their voices heard at the DACF hosted FDA listening session in August, through the public comment process, and to Maine’s congressional delegation for calling for greater public input.”

Governor Paul R. LePage stressed the importance of having federal agencies be responsive to the needs of local farmers and producers and not imposing one-size-fits-all regulations that restrict job growth and economic development unnecessarily. “This is a case where Maine citizens and their elected representatives worked together to ensure that our voices were heard at the federal level. I commend Commissioner Whitcomb and the DACF for studying the law, the proposed rules, and then working at all levels to help bring about the FDA listening session in Maine. There is no reason why the FDA can’t develop a reasonable food safety program that also recognizes the importance of small farms in Maine and across the country.”

On August 19, 2013, the DACF’s Division of Quality Assurance & Regulations held a listening session on the proposed FDA produce safety. Produce growers and packers attended to learn more about the federal government’s proposed food safety rule and express their concerns at the Augusta State Armory. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) passed in January 2011 represents the most comprehensive reform of food regulation in more than 70 years. A key component of the FSMA is a mandate to shift food safety efforts from reaction to prevention.

For more information about the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, go to: http://www.maine.gov/acf