Last month, we suggested that people who like getting food from small, local farms might have an interest in speaking up about the new Food Safety Modernization Act. Many of those small farmers were worried that the law could put them out of business.
Today, Michael Taylor, the FDA official leading the process wrote, “You spoke. We heard you.”
The FDA will make “significant changes” on precisely those points that worried farmers most (see those details in my first story). In a statement, Taylor wrote:
Based on our discussions with farmers, the research community and other input we have received, we have learned a great deal, and our thinking has evolved. Everyone shares the goal of ensuring produce safety, but, as we said at the beginning of the process, the new safety standards must be flexible enough to accommodate reasonably the great diversity of the produce sector, and they must be practical to implement.
“We will have to wait and see what the rules look like next summer, but it’s clear the FDA has heard what we’ve been saying and took it seriously,” said Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) in a press release. Pingree, a small farmer herself, pushed hard for revisions. “The farmers and consumers around the country who made their voices heard on this issue deserve a lot of credit for today’s announcement.”
Sometimes speaking up actually works! The noisy pig gets the slop. But even more important than speaking is listening. Kudos to Michael Taylor and the FDA for working so hard to find a way to make food safer without hurting farmers.