Under the Dome

December 2, 2013

Hagan says small farms need more protections in food safety law

In 2010, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan worked to get an amendment added to a food safety law that exempted small farms that sell directly to consumers or restaurants. Now the Food and Drug Administration is working on the regulations needed to carry out the law, and North Carolina’s Democratic senator says those proposed rules need to be written more clearly in order to help small farms.

In 2010, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan worked to get an amendment added to a food safety law that exempted small farms that sell directly to consumers or restaurants. Now the Food and Drug Administration is working on the regulations needed to carry out the law, and North Carolina’s Democratic senator says those proposed rules need to be written more clearly in order to help small farms.

Under the amendment that Hagan and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mon., sponsored three years ago, small producers are exempt from most of the federal rules, but they remain subject to state and local food safety and health requirements.

Hagan and Tester recently wrote a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, urging her to “rectify the rules to ensure that small farms, farmers’ markets, and local cooperatives are able to thrive while protecting food safety from the biggest threats.” Hagan’s office released a copy of the letter to the Dome on Monday and planned to issue a press release on Tuesday.

The two-page letter suggests more than a half-dozen changes to the rules to clarify them. The letter was dated Nov. 13 and sent during a comment period before the FDA makes the rules final.

“Agriculture is the largest industry in North Carolina, and I am committed to ensuring that family farms selling at farmers’ markets and local co-ops are not burdened by regulations that are designed for large producers,” Hagan said in a statement. “One size does not fit all, and the FDA must follow through and ensure that final rules do not unnecessarily threaten the livelihood of local farmers and hurt economic growth.”

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