Tag Archives: legislation

FSMA Listening Session with VAAFM and NEASDA

Food safety regulations will affect farmers and food processors throughout the country, and NOFA Vermont has been one of many voices calling for these regulations to be amended to be appropriate for organic and small-scale farms. We hope that concerned farmers, processors, and consumers will continue to make their voices heard, as well. This announcement comes from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture.

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets (VAAFM), in conjunction with the Northeast Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NEASDA), will host an open Listening Session on November 17th, 2014, to offer farmers and food processors an opportunity to provide comment on new supplemental rules proposed by the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Attendees will have an opportunity to pose questions to and seek clarification from a panel of subject matter experts from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that will be present at the meeting. The listening session will take place from 9:00am – 1:00pm in the Chase Center located at the Vermont Law School in South Royalton, VT. While oriented towards regional farmers and food processors specifically, this listening session is open to all interested parties from across the northeast.

FSMA, the most sweeping reform of our nation’s food safety laws in more than 70 years, was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011. FSMA aims to ensure the safety of the U.S. food supply by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it. On September 29th, 2014, the FDA released proposed supplemental rules to four of the seven existing rules, largely the result of an unprecedented level of comments and valuable input received from farmers and others directly affected by these regulations.

The November 17th, 2014, the Vermont-NEASDA hosted listening session will focus on the following three supplemental rules:

1. The Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce rule proposes enforceable safety standards for the production and harvesting of produce on farms. Changes include:

  • More flexible criteria for determining the safety of agricultural water for certain uses and a tiered approach to water testing.
  • A commitment to conduct extensive research on the safe use of raw manure in growing areas and complete a risk assessment. Pending those actions, FDA is deferring its decision on an appropriate time interval between the application of raw manure, the harvesting of a crop, and removing the nine-month interval originally proposed.
  • The FDA proposes eliminating the 45-day minimum application interval for composted manure that meets proposed microbial standards and application requirements.

2.  The Current Good Manufacturing Practices and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food rule would require makers of food to be sold in the United States, whether produced at a foreign- or domestic-based facility, to develop a formal plan for preventing food products from causing food borne illness.

3.  Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals would require facilities producing animal food (pet food, animal feed, and raw materials) to have written plans that identify hazards and specify steps to prevent those hazards. Changes include:

  • Requirements that human and animal food facilities, when appropriate, test products and the food facility’s environment, as well as implement certain supplier controls.

A full copy of the proposed supplemental rules is available for viewing through the following links:

All growers, manufacturers, and anyone interested in fresh produce safety and manufacturing of human and animal food are encouraged to comment on the supplemental proposed rules. The comment period will remain open for 75 days until December 15th, 2014. There are two ways to officially submit comments to FDA:

  1. Comment electronically at:
    1. Produce: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/09/29/2014-22447/standards-for-the-growing-harvesting-packing-and-holding-of-produce-for-human-consumption
    2. Human Food: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/09/29/2014-22446/current-good-manufacturing-practice-and-hazard-analysis-and-risk-based-preventive-controls-for-human
    3. Animal Feed: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/09/29/2014-22445/current-good-manufacturing-practice-and-hazard-analysis-and-risk-based-preventive-controls-for-food
  2. Written comments may be faxed to the FDA at 301-827-6870 or you may mail them to:

Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)

Food and Drug Administration

5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061

Rockville, MD 20852

For more information about FSMA, visit http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/

Or contact:

Abbey Willard – abbey.willard@state.vt.us or 802-272-2885

Shelley Mehlenbacher – shelley.mehlenbacher@state.vt.us or 802-828-2421

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A “DARK” Act in Washington

Image from the Environmental Working Group

As Vermont becomes the first state to enact mandatory GMO labeling, those opposed to labeling are hoping to erase our victory with federal legislation. “Friends” of multinational food and biotech corporations in Congress have recently introduced a bill that would authorize the FDA to preempt and invalidate state-level labeling laws in Vermont and across the country. Opponents have dubbed the bill the Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act. House Committees are expected to begin hearings on the bill this summer.

Also recently introduced are two congressional bills that would require nationwide mandatory at the federal level, along the same lines as Vermont’s labeling law. (We’re glad to report that Vermont’s congressional delegation has already signed on as cosponsors of these bills.) National consumer, agriculture, and environmental groups are busy organizing political action and public awareness campaigns in support of these bills and against the “forces of DARKness”.

It is going to be a hot time in Washington over the next year as these bills progress! We will be working with our members, our national allies, and our congressional delegation to insure that a strong and mandatory labeling law will be enacted nationally.

There are many websites with further information. We recommend Beyond Pesticides for a good overview.

Stay tuned!

[Post by Dave Rogers, NOFA Vermont Policy Advisor]

Gov. Shumlin will sign the GMO bill next week!

VTJoinUsSignedIntoLaw_1We’ve just got word that Governor Shumlin plans to sign H.112, Vermont’s GMO labeling bill, next Thursday, May 8 at 2:30 PM. We’re planning a statehouse lawn celebration – please join us! More details coming soon – follow us on Facebook or Twitter for the latest.

Vermont Senate Approves GMO Labeling Bill by a vote of 28-2 !!!

On April 16th the Vermont Senate voted 28-2 in favor of H.112, which would require the labeling of foods made with genetic engineering. This brings Vermont very close to final passage and enactment of the nation’s first GMO labeling law that does not include a multi-state “trigger, which would require indefinite postponement of its implementation.  

To visibly demonstrate to Governor Shumlin how important it is for him to sign the bill into law, the Coalition is calling for “honk and wave” events next Tuesday, April 22 (Earth Day) during morning “drive time” — not just in Vermont but all across the country. Our national partners and supporters are helping to organize this.

Use this online tool to set up and share your local honk and wave! Continue reading Vermont Senate Approves GMO Labeling Bill by a vote of 28-2 !!!

GMO Bill Moves Forward!

Special update from NOFA’s policy advisor, Dave Rogers! Vermont Right to Know! Label GMOs

At 11am today, the VT Senate Judiciary Committee, after several weeks of work, voted 5-0 in favor of our GMO labeling bill. The bill contains no triggers and establishes a special $1.5M fund to cover implementation and legal costs, if necessary. Funds would come from Attorney General office proceeds from other cases and unrestricted donations from individuals, organizations, etc, both instate and out of state.

After a quick trip to the Senate Appropriation Committee to set up the fund, it will move to the Senate floor where it is expected to pass. Timing is uncertain but could be quite soon. Then it will go to the House for either approval of the Senate bill, or to a conference committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions.

Then it will go on to the Governor’s desk.  Just before the Judiciary committee voted, one member, a Republican  whose vote was uncertain until the end, said, “Vermont is about to go where no state has gone before.”

So, we are all  quite pleased, but as we know, it ain’t over ’til it’s over! This is a great time to get in touch with your senators and let them know that you expect them to help pass this historic legislation.

Visit the Vermont Right to Know GMOs website to learn more and get involved.

Join the Right to Know Roadshow!

We are at a critical stage in the two-year effort to pass legislation requiring foods made with genetic engineering to be labeled in Vermont.

After passing the Vermont House last year and the Senate Agriculture Committee last month, our GMO labeling bill, H.112, will now be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee in mid-March.  If approved there, it will move to the full Senate for a vote and, hopefully, straight to the Governor’s desk for his signature later this spring.

This steady success has been due to the continuing engagement of tens of thousands of Vermonters, who have let their legislators know that they care about where our food comes from, how it is made, and what it contains.

Want to learn more & get engaged?

co-op_workshops_ALL.VTGMOOMGtheaterDates_2 Over the next few weeks members of the VT Right to Know GMOs Coalition, including NOFA Vermont, will be be hosting a series of  consumer education workshops around Vermont. These are sponsored by community co-ops in different regions of the state so that you will have the facts you need to help H.112 become law.

 We will also be showing the highly-regarded film GMO OMG in six locations across Vermont.

Please plan to join your neighbors at one or more of these events – we need everyone to get this job done!

GMO Labeling Hearing: February 6

The Vermont Senate Agricultural Committee has been hearing testimony on the GMO Labeling bill for weeks – ever since the legislative session opened in early January.

Now, it’s time for citizens to make their voices heard! Join the hearing at the Statehouse in Montpelier on February 6, starting at 6:00 – and tell your legislators why YOU have the right to know what’s in your food!

Vermont Right to Know! Label GMOsWe strongly recommend arriving early if you’d like to testify; the sign-up sheet should be available at 5:30. Based on our experience from a similar public hearing in 2012, the line will likely be long!

You can let us know you’re coming by registering with the Vermont Right to Know Coalition, which is a joint effort of NOFA Vermont, VPIRG, Rural Vermont, and Cedar Circle Farm.

For more information about NOFA Vermont’s role in the Vermont Right to Know Coalition, or to get involved with the campaign, contact Dave Rogers, NOFA Vermont Policy Advisor.

Show your support for GMO labeling on January 16!

Vermont GMO labeling bill (H.112), which passed the VT House last May by a wide margin, is now being debated in the Vermont Senate. H.112  would require that foods made with  genetically engineered (GMO)  substances be labeled as such.

Success in the House — in the face of  well-financed  opposition by a number of global chemical and food corporations — was due to thousands of Vermonters who contacted their representatives and told them — loudly and clearly — to  support H.112.

As in the House, passage of H.112 in the Senate and final enactment  into law, will require thousands of Vermonters to let their voices be  heard by their Senators and in their communities.  The opposition’s  lobbyists and PR people are already at work in the Statehouse.  They  are is determined to kill this legislation — no matter the cost.

Visit www.vtrighttoknow.org for details about the rally.
Join us for a Vermont Right to Know GMOs rally at the Statehouse on 1/16!

Now is the time for Vermonters, once again, to let their voices be heard in their Statehouse and by their elected Senators. On January 16, the Vermont Right To Know GMOs coalition, of which NOFA  is a member, will be holding A GMO Rally, Teach-in and Lobby Day at  the Vermont Statehouse.  At this event you will learn more about the  issues and how to make sure your voice is heard in the Statehouse by your Senators.  Full information about Lobby Day agenda can be found on the Vermont Right To Know GMOs webpage.

Scores of Vermonters have already registered to attend. We hope that you and your neighbors and friends will be able to join us. Let’s show ’em how democracy ‘gets done’ in this little state.

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.)