Michigan farmers fear new rules could jeopardize their operations

 Local farmers worry about the impact proposed new regulations will have on their ability to provide affordable produce to Michigan communities. Photo courtesy of Nic Welty.

Local farmers worry about the impact proposed new regulations will have on their ability to provide affordable produce to Michigan communities. Photo courtesy of Nic Welty.

In light of the rise in food-borne illness outbreaks, the Food and Drug Administration has proposed new regulations for produce farms and food processors, and Michigan’s local farmers fear the changes could unfairly burden their operations and reduce options for consumers.

According to Nic Welty, who runs a small vegetable farm called 9 Bean Rows in Leelanau County, he and other local producers have been making huge strides in the last few years to get more healthy, local foods into communities across Michigan, but he worries about the proposed additional paperwork, equipment, and inspections.

“Any farmer is happy to be making their farm cleaner, faster, and more efficient,” Welty said. “It’s just how much of this ends up being sort of an unfunded mandate?”

Farmers and consumers alike have until Nov. 15 to weigh in on the proposed changes online at FDA.gov.

Welty, who holds a degree in microbiology, said he takes food safety extremely seriously and sees a need for stronger regulations in certain areas. However, he questions the logic behind some of the proposed changes, which total more than 1700 pages.

“There’s also some of it where I see the law being written by someone who doesn’t have a clear concept of the science behind biology and where pathogens live, reside, and how people are actually getting contaminated,” he said.

The Food Safety Modernization Act does not change food safety regulations for meat, poultry, and egg products, which are under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s jurisdiction.

On The Web
FSMA-proposed changes: 1.usa.gov/184SSns

This report comes from Mona Shand with the Michigan News Connection.