FDA’s poisons the well for fruit tree farmers

Grocers, growers are fighting the new rules to stave off a mass shutdown of fruit orchards

  • apples

For decades, America’s farmers, ranchers, and fruit growers have become grudgingly accustomed to dealing with onerous regulatory schemes emanating from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But now the people who grow apples, pears, and other tree fruits have a new tormentor: the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Best known for its regulation of pharmaceuticals, the FDA has now set its sights on orchards. To the horror of growers from Florida to Oregon, the FDA is proposing strict new food-safety standards that many growers are convinced will put them out of business.

Among other things, the FDA is proposing requiring growers to conduct regular testing of irrigation water, sanitize canvas fruit-picking bags, and keep animals away from crops. The torrent of regulations about to rain down on the tree-fruit industry is the single biggest intrusion Washington has undertaken into the business practices of the nation’s orchards.

The FDA’s action is rooted in the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, in which Congress and the Obama Administration mandated a sweeping overhaul of the regulations governing everything from orchard management and foreign imports to processing plants.

Essentially, the new law instructs the FDA to develop a regulatory framework that will prevent food-borne diseases. Traditionally, FDA has dealt with such diseases after they have broken out. The laws, and the subsequent regulations being drafted at the FDA, barely differentiate between apples and pears, which have a nearly flawless safety record, and spinach and cantaloupes, which have, on rare occasions, caused deadly outbreaks

Fruit-tree farmers already have to comply with state standards, industry-wide best practices, and strict safety requirements from retailers. For some growers, the prospect of having to answer to Washington bureaucrats, few if any of whom have any experience in growing fruit trees commercially, is troubling.

“Somebody in an office in Washington, DC, who’s never stepped foot off concrete has decided we need this rule and that rule,” Leslie Judd, who oversees 350 acres of apples, cherries, and pears in Washington’s Yakima Valley, told the Washington Post (April 8). “The market has already taken care of this problem, if it’s a problem. Which it isn’t.”

The FDA estimates the cost of its new regulations at $430 million annually, or between $5,000 and $30,000 per farm, depending on size. Whatever the costs turn out to be, they will ultimately be passed on to consumers. Hoping to avoid the mass shutdown of fruit-tree operations, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Fresh Produce Association are urging the FDA to redraft its proposed regulations.

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About the Author: Bonner Cohen, Ph. D.

Bonner Cohen, Ph. D.

Bonner R. Cohen, Ph. D., is a senior policy analyst with CFACT.

4 Comments
  1. Eckenhuijsen Smit

    As usual the band of stupid and ignorant red/green idiots destroy as much they can to drain the US of its riches.
    Get rid of them, beginning with Barry Hussein Obama Sotero; you can do it, show your strength!

  2. J.P. Katigbak

    There has to have a very solid way to challenge the twin doctrines of environmentalism and democracy before the activist ideologues are threatening to attack various societies and economies around the globe. Any ideas?

    Remember: rejoice the good ones while recognise the bad, so you can correct those errors, got that? Thank very much. – J.P.K.

  3. for people who do not believe agenda 21 is being forced on us by stealth (because they believe it is soft law which it is but only on paper) are truly not paying attention or just willfully ignorant. they think americans are to numerous and too wealthy (why would they even care about that I just don’t know after all we don’t harm them in anyway)but they are doing exactly what satan wants, tyranny and cruelty and injustice (Not to mention stupidity) all orignate with him, and by making food more expensive they hope to decrease the population via hunger.

  4. J.P. Katigbak

    Is it very wise to understand why is situation occur? The twin doctrines of environmentalism and democracy must be challenged, only to understand the truth regarding the kind of worldview that leads to the justification of regulatory policies that supposedly protect the environment. But they strangle the farming sector, especially in the US.
    Such a dubious move on the part of activist ideologues needs to be stopped before the situation gets worse. – J.P.K.

    P.S.: Remember to rejoice the good ones (including good, tried-and-tested traditional values and customs), while recognising the bad. That is one thing that people like me would learn a lesson or more from.

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