FDA WILL RE-PROPOSE RULES IN RESPONSE TO CONCERNS FROM BIPARTISAN COALITION OF LAWMAKERS

Senators Shaheen, Blunt and Representatives Courtney, Gibson, Kuster requested second draft of proposed rulemaking and additional public comment opportunities for farmers, stakeholders

December 19, 2013

(Washington, DC) – A successful bipartisan effort led by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Representatives Joe Courtney (D-CT), Chris Gibson (R-NY) and Annie Kuster (D-NH), has resulted in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) planning to revise regulations and seek additional comments from the public before finalizing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)rules.  The FDA’s announcement comes less than a month after the lawmakers led a bipartisan coalition of 75 Republicans, Democrats and Independents expressing concern about the impact of proposed FDA rules on farmers and businesses, which re-proposing the regulations for public comment could help alleviate.

“The FDA is making the right call,” Senator Shaheen said. “There are serious concerns that have been raised by farmers and consumers in my state and across the country that the FDA must consider before finalizing rules.  Submitting a second draft of key aspects of these rules for public comment will allow farmers and other stakeholders to further inform the rulemaking process, which I hope will better protect our national food supply while preventing the issuance of overly burdensome or ambiguous regulations.”

“I’m pleased the FDA has agreed to issue a second draft of proposed rules and give farmers and businesses the opportunity to provide additional input,” Senator Blunt said. “I thank Senator Shaheen and my colleagues in the House and Senate for their work to alleviate the impact of these burdensome regulations on farm families in Missouri and nationwide.”

“I am pleased to see that FDA is being responsive to the bipartisan feedback from lawmakers about the need to reexamine the proposed FSMA rules,” Congressman Gibson said. “FDA’s goal of guaranteeing produce safety is certainly admirable, but as the Representative of a district that relies on an agriculture-based economy, I am also concerned with ensuring flexibility and practical implementation for our family farmers.  It is encouraging to see FDA recognize this as well.”

“I am pleased to see that the FDA has taken our input into account, revised its proposals, and will seek further comment, so that Connecticut farmers have an additional opportunity to have their voices heard,” Congressman Courtney said. “The FDA’s willingness to listen provides an avenue to promote food safety rules that will not unduly burden Connecticut farms. I look forward to continuing this work with my congressional colleagues, state agricultural officials, and producers so that we can get these rules right for everyone.”

“I’m very pleased that the FDA responded to our request and will seek additional input from New Hampshire farmers and stakeholders before issuing final food safety rules,” Congresswoman Annie Kuster said. “It’s vital that farmers across the Granite State have a chance to raise concerns about the unintended and harmful consequences of these proposed rules.”

In March, the FDA issued two proposed rules implementing FSMA, a 2011 law that overhauled food safety laws to increase the safety of our domestic food supply. These rules addressed preventive controls for human food and standards for the growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce for human consumption.  But as proposed, the 1,200-page rules have left food producers and processors across the country concerned about a number of issues including those specifically surrounding facility compliance and environmental standards. The FDA’s announced plan to re-propose key rule language will allow farmers and stakeholders to lend critical input toward the FDA-rulemaking process.