Don’t Let FDA’s Unfair Rules Jeopardize Small Farms

When it comes to regulating American agriculture, one size does NOT fit all. That was the message that CAFF and thousands of family farmers brought to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) ten years ago when they began hashing out the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Had it not been for that advocacy, FSMA would likely have treated small, highly-diverse family farms the same as massive mono-cropping corporate behemoths, destroying the fabric of our local food community by burying small farms beneath paperwork.

Unfortunately, it’s a message they need to hear again. Speak up by February 22!

The FDA is again proposing expensive new requirements that would apply to almost everyone involved in the food system, including farms, cottage food operators, and restaurants. For foods that FDA lists as “high risk,” the proposed rule imposes extensive record-keeping requirements, including electronic spreadsheets, GPS coordinates on where the foods are grown, and the location, date & time that the food is harvested, cooled, packed, shipped, or used as an ingredient in another food. For big businesses supplying complex, global markets, perhaps. But for a family farm selling to a local grocery store? With limited means, few staff and hardly an hour to spare, it’s a recipe for disaster. 

Farmers, businesses, and individuals who care about healthy local and regional food systems need to speak out about the FDA’s unfair proposed rule on record-keeping in the food supply chain. FDA is taking public comments on the proposed rule, and this is your chance to tell the agency how damaging this proposal could be for your farm, your food business and your local food community. The steps below will help make sure FDA reads your comment. 

Step 1 

Determine how your farm, business, and the local farms you depend on may be affected by the proposed Traceability Rule – any farmer who grows fresh produce that is eaten raw may be affected. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition has more information:

What the New FDA Rule Means for Farms: Part 1

What the New FDA Rule Means for Farms: Part 2

In short, if you grow common crops such as lettuce, tomatoes, and melons your farm will likely be required to follow new recordkeeping requirements, unless you sell 100% of your sales directly to consumers. So if your farm has any sales to food hubs, restaurants, retailers, wholesalers, or other businesses then it’s likely that you’ll have to comply. 

You can find the full text of the proposed traceability rule here.

Step 2 

Use our template here to customize your comment! Revise the highlighted text areas to explain who you are and how this unfair recordkeeping rule would affect you. Either copy/paste the text into a new document or click “File” in the upper-left corner and select “Download”, choosing your preferred format (we recommend Microsoft Word)

Step 3 

Submit your comment. You can copy and paste text directly into the comment box on the website or upload your comment as an attachment

  • Again, if you’re using our template above, delete any unnecessary text that you don’t want in your comment
  • All comments and information in the comments will be made public. This includes your name and contact information you provide.
Step 4 

Share your comment with your members of Congress and U.S. senators so they understand what the FDA is attempting. Find contact information for your representative and senators here.

comment deadline is February 22, 2021, at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time.

CAFF thanks the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association for their help developing these materials.