FDA published Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption (Produce Rule) at the end of November 2015.
This Produce Rule is one of seven major regulations FDA is using to enforce the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Wild Farm Alliance worked with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, a core group of its member organizations, and many farmers across the country to educate policy makers and rule writers about stewardship farming, and the hard lessons learned in the Central Coast of California where the needless destruction of wildlife habitat occurs near produce fields because of misguided buyer food safety requirements.
With our encouragement, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) written by Congress sought to make sure that conservation mandates would be addressed in these regulations, and that no conflicts or duplication would occur with the National Organic Program. While we don't like everything in this Produce Rule (there was no attempt to rein in misguided buyer requirements), we feel FDA heard our concerns about conservation. In the Preamable to the Rule, which describes their thinking of why they wrote what they did, FDA says "We continue to encourage the co-management of food safety, conservation, and environmental protection."
The rules accommodate the co-management of food safety and conservation, most notably in the sections on domesticated and wild animals, agricultural water, and biological soil amendments. We highlight some of the practices that can still be done on the farm, what farmers can't do, and what new practices FDA requries.
Other key requirements address exemptions, full compliance dates, worker training and health and hygiene, equipment, and tools and buildings, and full recordkeeping. For a farmer-friendly version of every aspect of the Produce Rule, visit the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's food safety blog.
What Congress Put in FSMA to Address Wildlife Conservation and Certified Organic Production
FDA must take into consideration, consistent with ensuring enforceable public health protection, conservation and environmental practice standards and policies established by Federal natural resource conservation, wildlife conservation, and environmental agencies; and in the case of production that is certified organic, not include any requirements that conflict with or duplicate the requirements of the national organic program established under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.), while providing for public health protection consistent with the requirements of this Act.