Nov 19, 2013 8:34 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News
New Food and Drug Administration regulations could affect the price you pay for locally grown organic produce. It's all part of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
In an attempt to update the nation's food safety laws for the first time in more than 70 years, the FDA has proposed a sweeping new set of rules that would alter everything from the frequency of farm inspections to the mandated length of time between manure application and vegetable harvesting, each with its added costs.
The FDA says the goal is to protect people from food borne illnesses, which sicken 1.6 million Americans every year. However, some small organic farmers say the increased regulations make it harder and more expensive to grow organic produce.
One provision that has small organic farms worried is a requirement to wait nine months to harvest crops after applying compost, compared to the current four month wait.
The idea is to protect the food supply from pathogens in the compost, but organic farmers say nine months is far too long to wait to harvest and would decrease production.
"I think that the costs are in general going up everywhere," said local organic farmer Megan Judge. "The price of land makes it expensive to farm, the inputs make it expensive to farm. We as a country are going to have to start realizing that we're going to have to pay more for our food."
She adds the increased fees that come with being a certified organic farm also drive up overhead costs, something that forced her to drop her certification two years ago.
According to Judge, most of these small farms operate on the margin and any additional costs to the operations could be devastating to the overall survival of the farm.
The FDA is taking public comment on the Food Safety Modernization Act until November 22.
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