December 20, 2013

FDA Heeds Call From Crapo And Others To Revise Fresh Produce Rules

FDA received thousands of negative comments; will propose and seek comment on new rule language

Washington, D.C. - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will revise key provisions of its proposed fresh produce rule after Idaho food producers deemed the new water quality and manure standards unworkable.  Idaho Senator Mike Crapo has repeatedly pressed the FDA for revisions since the draft rules were released pursuant to the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011. 

"The announcement from the FDA is not only a victory for Idaho's farmers and ranchers, but more importantly a victory for consumers across the state and country," said Crapo.  "For months, the agriculture industry in Idaho expressed its concerns about the cost these proposed rules would have on the industry if not properly tailored.  The FDA has heard these concerns and I call on the administration to take a vastly different approach in addressing the needs of both small and mid-sized farms and ranches."

On January 4, 2013, the FDA issued a proposed rule for growing, harvesting, packing and holding fresh produce.  Among its requirements, the proposed rule would require weekly testing of all agricultural water at a cost of $35 to $40 per week.  If levels of coliform bacteria exceed the FDA's stringent standard, the farmer must cease irrigation until the water is in compliance, running a high risk of ruining a crop.  The FDA estimates that the cost of implementing this rule would cost a producer approximately $5,000 to $30,600 per farm, depending on size, with a total industry cost of $460 million.

Crapo, along with Idaho Senator Jim Risch, introduced the Stopping Costly Regulations Against Produce (SCRAP) Act as an amendment to the Senate version of the 2013 Farm Bill.  Unfortunately, the amendment was not allowed a vote during consideration of the bill. 

More recently, Crapo wrote the FDA, urging them to release a second set of proposed rules before finalizing the current one.  Previously, the FDA extended the comment period on the proposed rules to November 15, 2013.  Crapo voted against the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011, cautioning that the bill gave extensive discretionary power to the FDA while drastically burdening rural America.