In 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law. Previously, the USDA was the primary agency regulating agriculture. Today, both the FDA and the USDA regulate farmers, doubling the mound of paperwork farmers must navigate to maintain a legal operation. Baylen Linnekin, food lawyer, clarified this issue with The Grassroot Institute with Keli’i Akina, a radio show on KAOI 1110AM Maui and KKNE 940AM Oahu.
“The basic premise is that the FDA is moving from responding to food-borne illness outbreaks to preventing food-borne illness outbreaks,” said Baylen. He said that the USDA already regulates food safety practices, and there appears to be too many cooks in the kitchen.
As the FDA continues to test their new regulatory power, small farmers pay the highest price. “When the law was originally drafted, they wanted to make sure that small farmers wouldn’t be negatively impacted,” Baylen explained, “The FDA — in drafting the actual rules over the last several years — botched it, so they ensnared more small farmers than the law ever intended.” Baylen elaborated that “very small farmers” make up to “$25,000 a year”, while “small farmers” make up to “$500,000 a year”, leaving many farmers vulnerable to regulation that their business cannot afford.
Perhaps such stifling regulation is justifiable in extreme circumstances, however over-regulation can also be harmful. “America’s food supply is perhaps the safest in the history of man,” Baylen pointed out, “it turns out the leading cause of food-born illness is Norovirus… and that is caused by [people who prepare food] not washing their hands.”
Listen to the full interview here: