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Posts Tagged ‘food safety’

Farmer Friday: Food safety and Big Bear Farms

It’s our last Farmer Friday! Today we are chatting about food safety!

Each Friday in November and December, we are excited to bring you stories of what Florida Organic Growers (FOG) has accomplished in the organic and farming industry and how its impacted farmers, consumers and the community while spotlighting farmers in Florida who have benefitted from our work.

We encourage you to join us as a member to allow us to continue this invaluable work.

The Food Safety Modernization Act and Big Bear Farms

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the first major overhaul of our nation’s food safety regulations since 1938 and it includes new requirements for produce farms and for facilities that process produce and many other types of food for people to eat.

FSMA was signed into law in January 2011. It gives the FDA broad new powers to prevent food safety problems, detect and respond to food safety issues, and improve the safety of imported foods. Specifically, FSMA requires FDA to establish new regulations for standards for produce production (the Produce Rule) and food safety measure for facilities that process food for human consumption (Preventative Controls Rule).

After receiving tens of thousands of comments last year, FDA announced that they would re-propose parts of two main rules. FDA just ended their comment period two weeks ago for the re-proposed rules.

FOG has been at the forefront in advocating for revising of the FSMA rules and our partnership with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has allowed us to reach the masses about food safety and its costly burden on family farmers.

It was vital for farmers, consumers, and food advocates to comment as there is a real risk these rules will put farmers and food entrepreneurs out of business and make sustainable and organic agriculture, local food, and conservation efforts collateral damage.

Big Bear Farms, a Certified Organic blueberry and vegetable farm in Plant City, will be greatly affected by these new rules. blueberry_bushes1_250x166

“FDA took the strictest regulations and applied it to all farms. Many rules they are proposing do not apply to smaller farms,” said Ken Der, owner of Big Bear Farms.

“The cost to the smaller farms has to be minimal otherwise it will put us out of business.”

The farm is also certified for Produce GAPs Harmonized Food Safety Standard for Field Operations and Harvesting. Both certifications are with Quality Certification Services, a certification program under FOG.

If FMSA doesn’t work for ALL farmers, then it doesn’t work for safe food, and it doesn’t work for us.

Please join us as we continue to advocate for family farms and become a FOG member today!


Join FOG and WFA to discuss the FDA’s new proposed rules

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To all QCS Florida and Florida Organic growers,

You are invited to a meeting on Thursday, January 17th at 1:30 pm, at the DoubleTree Hotel in Downtown Orlando with FOG and partner Wild Farm Alliance to discuss:
•     What is in the FDA’s proposed rules that relates to wild and domestic animals, compost and manure.
•     Your input on the attached illustration and descriptive key that will be part of a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) technical note about Co-managing for Food Safety and Conservation Objectives in Specialty Crops.

As you probably know, FDA released the proposed food safety rules last Friday. There are two parts, but the one most relevant to the co-management of food safety and conservation is Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption. To see a summary, go to: To download the full rules, go to this link and scroll down to the FDA section:

Some of you may have helped Wild Farm Alliance earlier with their survey and/or hosting a farm tour. They have now drafted a lengthy technical note, and rather than ask for your input on all of that during your busy season, they would like your feedback on the attached illustration and descriptive key. They have incorporated feedback on this illustration from some of our other project advisors, including FDA, and now need to check with growers like you to see if this makes sense.

If you are interested and would be available for the Thursday January 17th meeting in Orlando, please RSVP There is a $9.00 daily parking charge at the hotel and that parking charge can be reimbursed after the meeting.

If you are not available but would like to be part of a conference call at the end of the month, please let me know.


Marty Mesh

WFA-NRCS Illustration
WFA-NRCS Illustration Key

FDA Proposes New Food Safety Rules

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January 4, 2011 –  The Food and Drug Administration released a proposal that has the potential to be a major step in the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which President Obama signed into law two years ago.  These proposed rules detail the standards for produce safety and human food production standards, the first significant update to our nation’s food safety laws since the 1930s.

When writing S.510 (111th), Congress needed to be sure that the bill’s regulations work for small businesses and mid sized farms alike to accommodate the diverse sectors of American agriculture. Congress assured, in the proposed standards, that the reporting requirements and prevention planning requirements could be accomplished without costly investments.

“With the aim of improving food safety through FSMA, Congress rejected a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to food safety regulations,” said Ariane Lotti, Assistant Policy Director with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.  “Which would put small and mid-sized farm operations out of business, consolidate agricultural markets, and eliminate opportunities for food and farm entrepreneurs in emerging sectors of agriculture – including organic and local and regional food systems. Ultimately, we want to ensure a safe food supply, strong on-farm conservation of natural resources, and thriving family farms.” Read more on NSAC’s Blog>>