Dems to FDA: Help small farmers comply with new food safety rules

Congressional Democrats want the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help small farmers comply new food safety laws due out in spring 2016.

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyDemocratic senator: Methane fee could be 'in jeopardy' Democrats ready to put a wrap on dragged-out talks Democrats look for plan B on filibuster MORE (D-Conn.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), along with 12 other lawmakers, sent a letter to the FDA’s Acting Commissioner Stephen Ostroff on Monday asking that he implement technical assistance and training programs geared toward helping small farmers, small producers, and fruit and vegetable wholesale merchants follow the new rules required by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Lawmakers say they are most concerned about the new preventive controls for human food at factories and warehouses and what will be a first-ever nationwide standard for produce safety.

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The rules aim to keep the nation’s food supply protected from foodborne pathogens that cause illness outbreaks.

“Small farmers will need time, training, and relationships with regulators in order to effectively navigate new guidelines. Further, many small farms are diverse and have multiple profit centers—from produce, to value-added products, to dairy, to bakeries, and more,” the lawmakers said in their letter. “While we understand the preventive controls rule is still being developed, we feel strongly that the final rule provide clarity on what qualifies as a “facility” and what farmers must do to ensure compliance.”

In addition to Murphy and DeLauro, the letter was signed by Sens. Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenFranken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour Al Franken on another Senate run: 'I'm keeping my options open' Andrew Cuomo and the death of shame MORE (D-Minn.), Angus KingAngus KingSenate Democrats propose corporate minimum tax for spending package Lawmakers praise upcoming establishment of cyber bureau at State The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Democrats inch closer to legislative deal MORE (I-Maine), Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoDemocrats face critical 72 hours Democrats look for plan B on filibuster Progressives push back on decision to shrink Biden's paid family leave program MORE (D-Hawaii), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandPaid family leave proposal at risk Which proposals will survive in the Democrats' spending plan? Proposals to reform supports for parents face chopping block MORE (D-N.Y.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight On The Money — Senate Democrats lay out their tax plans Overnight Health Care — Presented by Altria — FDA advisers endorse Pfizer vaccine for kids Manchin: 'I think we'll get a framework' deal MORE (I-Vt.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Democrats address reports that clean energy program will be axed Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised On The Money — Democrats tee up Senate spending battles with GOP MORE (D-Vt.), Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by American Clean Power — Dems see path to deal on climate provisions Democrats say they have path to deal on climate provisions in spending bill Bipartisan lawmakers target judges' stock trading with new bill MORE (D-Del.), Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinProviding affordable housing to recruit our next generation of volunteer firefighters Progressives push back on decision to shrink Biden's paid family leave program Building back better by investing in workers and communities MORE (D-Wis.), Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperDemocrats say they have path to deal on climate provisions in spending bill Democratic senator: Methane fee could be 'in jeopardy' Climate activists confront Manchin outside of Capitol MORE (D-Del.), Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowSenate Democrats blast Supreme Court on one-year anniversary of Barrett's confirmation Senators weigh future of methane fee in spending bill Senate Democrats dial down the Manchin tension MORE (D-Mich.) and Reps. Sam FarrSamuel (Sam) Sharon FarrMedical marijuana supporters hopeful about government funding bill Marijuana advocates to give away free joints on Capitol Hill DEA decision against reclassifying marijuana ignores public opinion MORE (D-Calif.) and Chellie Pingree (D-Maine).

“With the passage of the FSMA, Congress took a major step forward in shifting the focus of food safety from response to prevention,” they said. “But confusion and misinformation is already circulating, and establishing lines of communication to farmers or to organizations that partner with farmers about implementation deadlines, training opportunities, and future technical assistance is critical to timely and accurate compliance.”