Fresh greens and organic strawberries from the farmers market; spicy pickles made from local cucumbers; crunchy Montana apples in school cafeterias: If you’re anything like me, this is the kind of food you like to be able to buy in your community, have in your kitchen, and see on your kids’ lunch trays at school. And farmers and entrepreneurs across the country have been making huge strides in the last few years to get more healthy, local, sustainably produced food into communities everywhere, and building our local food and farm economy as they do so.

fsmaBut much of this progress toward building a better food and farm future could literally be wiped out by new regulations proposed this year by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In its push to write new food safety rules based on the Food Safety Modernization Act passed by Congress, FDA is threatening to make sustainable and organic agriculture, local food, and farm conservation efforts collateral damage. As currently written, the rules will:

  • put many farms out of business;
  • reduce the supply of fresh, local produce in schools and hospitals;
  • push farmers to tear out wildlife habitat; and
  • increase the use of chemicals rather than natural fertilizers.

Everyone has a role in ensuring our nation’s food is safe – from the farmers who grow it to the folks who take it home and prepare it. But unless we act now, these new rules could have a devastating impact on the farmers and businesses responsible for putting fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods on America’s dinner plates – which, in turn, affects our health and well being.

You know your farmer, you know your food –

Now stand up for your farmer, stand up for your food!

As they’re currently written, these proposed regulations will unfairly burden family farmers, penalize sustainable and organic farming practices, and reduce the availability of fresh, local food in our communities.  They’ll make it harder for beginning farmers to get started, harder to get healthy food into schools, and harder for us to fight nationwide public health challenges like diabetes. Right now, we have a chance to tell FDA that this is unacceptable – and we need your help to do it.

Speak out today on the Food Safety Modernization Act!

FDA is seeking comments from the public – that’s you! Everyone needs to speak out and tell FDA that the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations must:

  • Allow farmers to use sustainable farming practices, including those already allowed and encouraged by existing federal organic standards and conservation programs;
  • Ensure that diversified and innovative farms – particularly those pioneering models for increased access to healthy, local foods – continue to grow and thrive without being stifled; and
  • Provide options that treat family farms fairly, with due process and without excessive costs.

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is organizing a nationwide campaign to submit comments to the FDA before the November 15th deadline.  We need your voice to  explain to the FDA that local food and diverse farms in Montana are part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Visit NSAC’s action page today to get informed, TAKE ACTION, and help us spread the word!

This post was written by Stephanie Potts.  Stephanie is the coordinator for Grow Montana, a broad-based state food policy coalition working on projects, research, and policies to help Montana retain more of the value of its agriculture within our communities, reconnect rural and urban economies, and improve access to healthy and nutritious food.  Stephanie lives in Missoula, and serves on the board of directors of CFAC.