Brandon Howell

In a recent speech, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black told the unvarnished truth about proposed regulations coming down the hatch from the Food and Drug Administration.

That being that they’re an “assault on the farming industry.”

He’s right; from Georgia to New York, the FDA’s first-ever push to regulate produce is no more than a package of bureaucratic hogwash running roughshod on domestic produce farmers.

Intended to safeguard consumers from macrobial contamination, they cast the federal regulatory net over “the use of animal manure, water sanitation and other factors that could affect microbial contamination of fresh produce.”

Black pulled no punches in saying it means the gates are likely open to further intrusion, and called on the agency to instead look into tightening its grip on imported foods imported into America rather than domestic producers.

It’s started with produce farmers, but who’s to say chicken or beef farms aren’t next? When in the Obama administration’s time has the mindset been a minimal level of federal intervention?

Crafted as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, the rules are meant as means for “the FDA to take a more proactive and less reactive position,” in the words of the congressman who sponsored the bill.

According to one report, they impact 40 percent of domestic farms, handing a federal agency the power to impose “new rules for each step of produce farming – from growing to harvesting to packing.”

Black isn’t the first to dub them an excessive overreach and possible nail in the coffin for many small farmers. The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance decried a “guilty until proven innocent” nature, arguing the inquisition on farmers would bring higher food prices for consumers.

An Albany, New York producer said earlier this month he was certain a $10,000 bill for complying with the new rules was in order for the first year alone, thanks to stricter water compliance standards, “similar to ones used for public swimming pools.”


Brandon Howell

Brandon Howell is a contributor to the Peach State political blog Georgia Tipsheet.