Farmers Worried About Proposed Food Safety Regulations

Farmers across New England are concerned about the impact proposed food safety regulations might have on their farms.They had a chance to ask questions and express their opinions at a meeting in Hadley, Massachusetts, Thursday. 

While normal operations took place in one part of a barn at Plainville Farm, the other part housed a lively and sometimes emotional discussion about the proposed federal rules. Many growers, like John Payne of Shelburne, told federal officials they’re worried about the financial impact on their farms. 

“You guys are the problem, not us. Not all these hard-working farmers out here. We’re struggling to come out of the the second-worst recession that our country has had in its long lifetime,” Payne says.

The Food and Drug Administration wants farmers to take new precautions against contamination, including ensuring workers’ hands are washed, irrigation water is clean and animals stay out of fields.

Mike Taylor is a deputy commissioner for the FDA. He says his agency should take into account the needs of farmers both large and small when finalizing the regulations. 

“Here in New England, we have very diversified farms, many small operations selling directly to consumers and that is a very unique set of circumstance and it’s a very positive part of communites here and people just want to be sure in establishing these food safety rules, we don’t disrupt that,” Taylor says.

Taylor says he expects the final rules to be released in about two years