Some small Ohio farmers say they could be driven out of business if new food safety rules proposed by the Food and Drug Administration go into effect.
The growers say changes outlined in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will be costly and unnecessary for small farms that already work hard to maintain food safety practices. The agency estimates the changes will prevent nearly two million foodborne illnesses. But as a result, small family farms, like Northridge Organic Farm in Licking County, could incur expenses that owner Mike Laughlin says are higher than they can afford.
ML: The added expense is gonna drive an awful lot of farms out of business. and at a time when more and more people are asking for more and more local food for their table, it's gonna mean fewer vendors available to sell at farm markets, and fewer choices for the consumer.
The FDA's says the rules would initially cost more than 27-thousand dollars per farm, and then nearly 13-thousand each year. Laughlin says the rules would favor large operations because small farmers are at financial risk due to their size and scope, as well as the costs of alternative practices that maintain soil and water integrity.
ML: When you do have rules and regulations, they do need to be size specific; it can't be a one-size-fits-all. For the consumers that are out there that are shopping at the farm markets - if this is something that's very important to you, then you need to get involved, get ahold of the FDA and let them know what you think.
The FDA is taking public comment until November 15th.