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Proposed legislation could affect local farmers

Posted April 13, 2010
Updated April 14, 2010

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— Proposed rules from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could have a significant negative impact on the state's local food economy, according to a nonprofit group that serves the interests of local farmers and consumers.

The Food Safety Modernization Act, currently awaiting debate in the U.S. Senate, is meant to help prevent food-related illnesses and outbreaks by would allowing the FDA to take quicker and more effective actions for companies that don't properly protect against food-poisoning risks.

About 76 million Americans get sick and nearly 5,000 die every year from food-related illnesses.

As the legislation reads now, it would require farmers and facilities to pay a $500 registration fee as well as fees for re-inspection and food recalls.

Citing a report it released Tuesday, the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association says costs for small-scale farmers and food suppliers to comply could exceed 150 hours in labor and as much as $20,000 in consulting and testing per year.

The group's executive director, Roland McReynolds, says small businesses are not the source of the vast majority of illnesses that the legislation targets.

"These and other costs for complying with one-size-fits-all food safety rules could force many small farms and food businesses to abandon value-added markets," McReynolds said.

It could also lead to significant job losses, he said.

The group wants Congress to write new, more flexible rules for small farms and businesses and fund educational programs and outreach to improve those small producers' safety practices.

"The federal government has an obligation to better understand the processes involved in local, health y food systems before attempting to regulate them," McReynolds said.

The Senate could take up the matter as early as next week.

17 Comments

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  • rand321 Apr 14, 2010

    do not forget the shrimp sales person, the local egg producers, and so on and so forth. The Feds only want to HELP!!!

  • oleguy Apr 14, 2010

    Ethridge is on the way out...

    Re Elect No One

    Its time for a Change,

    Vote them all out next election

  • colliedave Apr 14, 2010

    So, Paw and Maw Kettle need to pay $500 to the gobberment to sell their produce?

  • asdfg Apr 14, 2010

    This is ridiculous. How many of those food-borne illnesses came from food sold at local markets and stands and how much of it came from fruit and vegetables grown in other countries, or processed and packaged in some large factory. I try to buy fresh, locally grown food but it is such an inconvenience because I don't have a farmers market close to my house. Then, the prices aren't much better than the grocery store. If they pass this, prices will go up and demand will come down and farmers will quit selling at these markets. Maybe the government should try encouraging people to eat more fresh fruit and veggies so they will become healthier and better able to fight off illnesses.

  • sillywabbitthepatriot Apr 14, 2010

    Soooo, who is going to collect the fees from the produce/seafood coming from China, Mexico, Thailand, etc?

  • affirmativediversity Apr 14, 2010

    This ladies and gentlemen is:

    A PROGRESSIVE GOVERNMENT AGENDA IN ACTION!

    How do you like it so far?

  • rand321 Apr 14, 2010

    for all those under 250K per year, you are going to pay more for all that you buy, will be required to buy certain products with government approved features (e.g. health insurance) and the Pelosi value added tax is coming!

  • rand321 Apr 14, 2010

    Since when has the government ever actually helped? As Reagan said, the government is not the solution to our problems, it is the PROBLEM!!!!

    Its time to start saying NO to bigger and bigger government.

  • djofraleigh Apr 14, 2010

    Don't need no stinkin' fee to buy/sell veggies!

  • durhamite Apr 14, 2010

    We should encourage small farms, not discourage them. I've already written to my representative about this.

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