DYSPEPSIA GENERATION

We have seen the future, and it sucks.

FDA Begins Implementing Awful Food-Safety Law

3rd February 2018

Read it.

Obama, the give that keeps on shivving.

America’s farmers are on the alert this week as key provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) begin to take effect. The law, which is being rolled out by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over several years, could have far-reaching implications for who grows—and doesn’t grow—the food you buy.

When Congress passed FSMA (pronounced FIZZ-muh) in late 2010—President Obama signed it into law during the first days of 2011—supporters touted the law as the most sweeping update of our nation’s food-safety laws in more than 75 years.

But both the law and its implementation are controversial. Many small farmers feared—and still fear—that the new regulations and high costs of complying with the law could squeeze them out of business. As evidence, they point to the giant farms and food producers who supported the law.

Compliance costs are dooming ‘family’ farms. Expenses that would be pocket change for Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland eat up all the profit of small (typically organic) producers, who market their produce locally and don’t run huge centralized beef/pork/poultry factories, which Mark Pollan documents to great effect in The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

The relative compliance costs for small and large farms are stark. As I’ve noted previously, the FDA estimates FSMA will cost America’s small farms about $13,000 each per year and its larger farms about $30,000 per year. That means that for some small farmers, compliance costs could eat more than half of their revenue. For larger farms, compliance costs will amount to less than one percent of revenue.

,,,

Even if FSMA is implemented perfectly, the law won’t make our food supply much safer. That’s according to the FDA’s best-case estimates which, I wrote in 2014, would mean “a paltry reduction in cases of foodborne illness of between 3.7 percent and 5.4 percent.” Again, that’s the best-case scenario. A more likely outcome, I estimated, also using FDA data, is that foodborne illness cases might drop by around 2.6 percent.

Why such little impact? As I detailed in 2015, FDA regulations are only capable of preventing, at most, “only one out of every five cases… of foodborne illness.” That’s because four of every five cases of foodborne illness can be traced to causes that have nothing to do with foods regulated by the FDA.

Joel Salatin, a small organic farmer (500 acres) in Virginia, points out in his fascinating book You Can Farm that compliance with government regulations designed for massive industrial farms is the chief burden preventing farms like his from viability.

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