Tag Archives: federal

Deadline to #fixFSMA extended to 11/22!

The deadline to comment on the new FSMA rules has been extended to 11/22!The deadline for comments on the Food Safety Modernization Act has been extended to this Friday, 11/22, due to the issues with the FDA’s web comment portal last week. If you haven’t commented yet, now is your chance!

Click here for our commenting guidelines and a succinct summary of the issues.

FDA Website Down – #fixFSMA mailing info

Update, 11/12: As of now, regulations.gov is running again. You can comment on the Produce Rule here and the Processing Rule here.

Second update, 11/13: We’ve confirmed that written comments need to be postmarked by 11/15, not arrive by then, so if you’d prefer to send something in the mail (or if the website goes down again), you have until Friday. Apologies for the confusion; the information has been updated below.

The FDA commenting portal is out of service.The FDA’s regulation portal continues to be inaccessible due to “technical difficulties” as the comment deadline for FSMA nears. We are advocating for an extension of the deadline, but cannot say whether it will happen.

You can mail your comment to the FDA, but mailed comments must arrive at the FDA be postmarked by 11/15. That means to guarantee they’ll get there on time, you should mail them today!

Mail to:

Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

Be sure to include the docket number in your comments: Produce Rule is
FDA-2011-N-0921 and the Facilities/Processing Rule is FDA-2011-N-0920. Also include your name and farm/business or organization affiliation, if any.

Thanks to everyone who is taking the time to make their voices heard!

(For more information on the Food Safety Modernization Act and how to write a comment, see our previous post.)

YOUR comment is needed to #fixFSMA!

If you’re still wondering how FSMA might affect you, read on. The following article originally appeared in the Fall issue of NOFA Notes; we realized it was a good synopsis of the issues most affecting Vermont’s farmers, processors, and consumers, and so are reprinting it here. The deadline to submit comments on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is next Friday, November 15.

When Congress was debating the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in 2010, NOFA Vermont joined farm and food advocacy organizations around the country in a successful effort to amend the law to minimize FSMA’s impact on local food systems and family-scale fruit and vegetable farmers.

After all, numerous studies have found that the nation’s food safety “problems” are largely a result of large-scale production, processing, and distribution systems, and not caused by family-scale farms that serve local and regional markets.
President Obama signed FSMA in January, 2011 and handed it to the FDA to figure out how to implement the most sweeping food safety reforms in 70 years. We crossed our fingers. Would the FDA “get it right”? Would Vermont’s fruit and vegetable farmers be able to continue their work without worrying about unnecessary and costly new federal food safety regulations?

Continue reading YOUR comment is needed to #fixFSMA!

How to submit a FSMA comment that counts: Webinar 11/4

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the most sweeping reform of our nation’s food safety laws in more than 70 years. It was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011, but the specifics of the law are still being worked out, and the public comment period ends on November 15.

When finalized, these rules will affect many Vermont vegetable and fruit growers – large and small. Along with UVM Extension and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, NOFA Vermont is hosting a webinar for farmers and others that will highlight the elements of a strong comment, give examples of potential talking points for different types of farms (focusing on alternatives to the proposed rules), and walk you through how to submit comments on the Federal Register.

Space is limited. Click here to reserve your Webinar seat for November 4th from 12 -1 pm.

PLEASE NOTE: The purpose of the webinar is NOT to explain the details of FSMA, but to help you submit your comments. If you are not familiar with FSMA, please use one of the following resources to learn more beforehand.

FSMA: Learn More and Speak Out! Webinar on 10/10

FSMA: Learn More and Speak Out! Webinar on 10/10

Learn more about the Food Safety Modernization Act and how you can speak up for small farmers with this webinar on Thursday at 4:30 from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. This is intended especially for farmers and supporting organizations that need to get up to speed on the basics of the FSMA and how to take action.

Gov’t Shutdown: Farm Bill Expires, Vermont’s USDA Offices Close

There was a faint hope that Congress would get its act together and hammer out a Farm Bill before it expired on October 1. House Republicans’ insistence on draconian cuts to food assistance programs has prevented a joint Senate-House conference committee from even beginning discussions of how, and whether, to fund dozens of farm programs over the five years.

Many of these programs help Vermont’s farms (both conventional and organic) and support the development of our local food systems. Some fund training and development programs at NOFA and similar organizations, while others serve farmers directly.

Among those programs affected are the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, the Farmers Market Promotion Program, the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program, Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, Organic Production and Market Data Initiatives, Outreach and Assistance to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers, Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Rural Micro-entrepreneur Assistance Program, Specialty Crop Research Initiative, Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) and others. These programs will remain without funding unless and until Congress decides to restore funding in a new Farm Bill.

Unfortunately, the prospects for this happening any time soon dimmed further today, when Washington’s dysfunction led to the shutdown of much of the federal government. This includes Vermont offices of USDA programs that assist our farmers with funds and assistance everyday, implementing conservation practices, providing operating loans, disaster recovery and business services. All work at Vermont’s NRCS offices and Federal Farm Service Agency have been suspended until further notice. (Don’t bother calling — no one is there.)

Let us hope that sanity will return to Washington soon. There is too much work to be done and too many people whose lives and livelihoods are being harmed — including those of Vermont’s farmers.

For more details about how specific programs will (or will not) continue, take a look at this post from the National Farmers Union.

[Post by Dave Rogers, NOFA-VT Policy Advisor]

The Food Safety Modernization Act and You

Root washer on Jericho Settlers Farm. Photo by Maria Reade.
Root washer on Jericho Settlers Farm. Photo by Maria Reade.

The FDA has recently completed its publication of proposed food safety rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). They  would require many of Vermont’s farmers and food processors to adopt new, and perhaps costly, equipment and practices designed to improve the safety of fresh produce and processed foods.

The public has until November 15 to submit comments and recommendations to the FDA, which will be considered in developing final rules that will likely take effect in the next several years.

It is important for every farmer and food processor to learn about these proposed rules and determine how they would affect their businesses. Farm and food advocacy organizations around the country have prepared summaries of the rules and information about how to submit comments to the FDA. (See links below.) In the weeks ahead, NOFA Vermont will be making additional information available – join our mailing list for the latest updates.

Upcoming opportunities to learn more and make your voice heard:

For more information about FSMA and how it might affect you:

Submit your comments to the FDA.

Quantity Counts! The more smaller-scale and diversified farmers they hear from, the better. To submit comments:

[by Dave Rogers, NOFA-VT Policy Advisor]