Letter: Speak Up for Local Farmers

To the Editor:

The small farmers of this community make an amazing contribution to the quality of our lives. They provide us with a remarkable array of fresh foods that make our meals tastier, healthier and more wholesome in every way. I mention this because I think the small farmers of our community now need our help, as consumers, to continue doing what they do.

The issue of concern is the Food Safety Modernization Act, and more specifically the effort by the feds at the Food and Drug Administration to promulgate rules under the act. At its core, the act is about food safety and is most properly directed at the huge corporate farms that provide the greatest volume of foodstuffs. Its rules should apply to those corporate entities, because they are the source of health issues that can be proven. Such health issues cannot be traced to the small local farms that give us fresh fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, the FDA sees a need to craft one-size-fits-all regulations that will disproportionately impact smaller operations. The new regulations will do this by applying burdensome administrative requirements on the small operations that will not increase food safety, but will impose unbearable costs. And that’s why I think we need to speak up for our local farmers.

The easiest way to do this is to contact the offices of our congressional delegations in both states. A call to our state agriculture commissioners wouldn’t hurt, either. The message should be this: Now is not the time to impose huge new regulatory burdens on small farmers, just when small-farm agriculture has rebounded to become a vital component of our economy. No one in the FDA can trace a health emergency to a small farm in the Upper Valley, and the rules and regulations should reflect that. This is a time for thoughtful action to achieve the desired result, perhaps through a partnership among the states, farmers and feds, not for the imposition of administrative mandates that make more sense in the Central Valley of California than they do in the Upper Valley.

Peter Hoe Burling



Farmers Sound Off on Rules

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hanover — Farmers from both sides of the Connecticut River crowded Alumni Hall Tuesday afternoon to share concerns about proposed federal food safety rules that could end up requiring weekly tests of water used for irrigation and changing the ways farmers spread manure on their crop fields. The public hearing drew about 150 people, including many local farmers, to downtown …