A BIPARTISAN, bicameral group of lawmakers are requesting that the Food & Drug Administration issue a second draft of regulations for public comment before issuing final rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
The coalition, led by Sens. Roy Blunt (R., Mo.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.) and Reps. Joe Courtney (D., Conn.), Chris Gibson (R., N.Y.) and Annie Kuster (D., N.H.), sent a letter co-signed by 75 members of Congress expressing concerns about the impact of proposed rules on farmers and businesses that an additional comment period could help alleviate.
FDA recently issued two proposed rules implementing FSMA that address preventative controls for human food and standards for the growing, harvesting, packing and holding of produce for human consumption.
As proposed, the 1,200-page rules have left food producers and processors across the country concerned about a number of issues surrounding facility compliance, environmental standards and others.
According to the letter, some of these concerns include: the testing frequency required for certain agricultural waters, restrictions on the use of biological soil amendments, compliance issues at mixed-use facilities, new requirements that conflict with existing conservation and environmental standards and U.S. Department of Agriculture practices, the rule's limiting definitions for "farm," "small business" and "very small business" and the lack of consideration of the complexity of various farm ownership entities.
"Despite your agency's efforts to engage with stakeholders during the rule-making process, we remain concerned about the ambiguity surrounding many aspects of these proposed rules," the letter said. "We believe the rules, as currently proposed, would result in a multitude of unintended consequences that would be severely detrimental to national, regional and local agriculture. By seeking additional input through second proposed rules for public comment before final rules, we believe that producers' concerns can be addressed and unintended consequences can be greatly mitigated."
The comment period for this portion of the FSMA overhaul ended Nov. 22 after being extended three times.