Feb. 12, 2012 letter to the editor of the Honolulu Star Advertiser

State will not leave small farms out to dry.

A recent Island Voices column ("Hawaii needs locally designed food safety program," Star-Advertiser, Feb. 1) expressed a growing apprehension that new food safety regulations were poised to harm small farms.
  The recent passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) by Congress has germinated fears that overzealous food safety regulations and expensive sanitary controls could leave the little guys out to dry. The Abercrombie administration won't let that happen.
  The state Department of Health will administer the federal FSMA program when the Food and Drug Administration issues rules. These rules will likely exempt small farmers from anything more than registering their farms and keeping records of their crop sales.
  Larger farms could be required to keep more detailed records and will be inspected to assure that proper sanitary facilities, like hand-washing sinks, are provided for farm workers.
  Both the state departments of Health and Agriculture are keenly aware that the majority of farms in Hawaii are small, and we will protect our farmers from unwarranted and excessive regulation. We want our islands to grow more of what we eat and rely less on imported food.
  During this legislative session, no new farm safety laws or rules are needed to further our food sustainability goals. States will have at least two years to develop our food safety programs once the FDA adopts its FSMA rules.
  Gary Gill        gary.gill@DOH.Hawaii.gov
Deputy director for environmental health, state Health Department  



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