Thanks for commenting SundanceKid. Not mentioning which fruits and vegetables are covered was an oversight and you rightly point out that farms defined as a "very small business" have until the start of 2020 to comply with the Produce Safety rule. It's farms averaging more than $250,000 but less than $500,000 in gross annual revenue from produce sales ("small businesses") that have until the end of 2018/start of 2019. I think Thistlethwaite was referring to these operations in that section of the LocalHarvest newsletter but will confirm. I've added some FDA compliance info to the post in an effort to clarify and hopefully make it less of a poor excuse for journalism. As to whether or not the frustration many farmers feel towards the FSMA is justified, I think it has less to do with any disagreement over the need for rigorous safety standards and more to do with the new regs being seen as yet another example of the federal government's tendency to enact complex agricultural policies that favor industry at the expense of smaller, more ecologically-minded farms.
This is a poor excuse for journalism. The regulation only applies to produce that is consumed raw. Farms that sell less than 250,000 a year of covered produce don't have to comply with any of the produce regulations until 2020, and they don't have to comply with the water safety regulations until 2022. FSMA does NOT require that farms "get each crop individually certified as food safety compliant"; many produce buyers do require third party crop certification but the FDA does not. Irrigation water that comes in direct contact with edible produce will have to meet a water quality standard E. coli rolling mean of 126 cfu / 100mls or less, or a wait time for pathogen die-off will be needed prior to harvest. Animal feces used for fertilizer will have to be composted to reduce fecal pathogens, and harvest employees must be provided with sanitary toilets and hand washing facilities. If you can't afford these simple, common sense precautions to prevent fecal pathogen contamination of produce you should not be in the produce business! And finally, the FDA does not charge for inspections, so your complaint about the cost of inspections has no merit. You pay for USDA organic inspections because organic certification is a voluntary service that helps you market your product.
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