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January 29, 2018

Federal food safety rules impose higher costs on Maine farmers

Mandates imposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Food Safety Modernization Act are creating a significant financial burden for Maine family farmers.

The Bangor Daily News reported the law, signed in 2011 by President Obama and designed to prevent foodborne illness, this month is hitting large farms that sell more than $500,000 worth of produce. By 2019, large farms doing between $250,000 and $500,000 worth of produce sales will need to comply, and by 2020, small businesses that sell between $25,000 and $250,000 worth of produce must comply.

"Everything in the act does makes sense," Goran Johanson of Goranson Farm in Dresden told the BDN. "Having no standing water. Getting your well water tested. These are all things that really should be done, but it's a huge financial burden on us as farmers."

"One of the faults of the law is that there could potentially be a lot of infrastructure needs necessary, yet there's no mechanism for grants for farms to get in compliance with it," said Dave Colson, agricultural services director for the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association.

"It is a headache. It adds a lot of extra costs to our operation," Peter Ricker of Ricker Hill Orchards in Turner agreed. "But I'd rather have this headache than have somebody get sick."

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