Speak Out Today!


2014_11 FSMA launch image for main page


How Do I Take Action?  Comment on the Rules Today!

The best way to fix FSMA and ensure safe food AND sustainable farms for our future is to COMMENT ON THE RULES.  This is how FDA is officially collecting input from farmers, processors, experts, and everyone who eats – anyone can and should comment!

 

FSMA commenting from Tilth Producers of Washington on Vimeo.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Commenting Online:

The best way to comment on the proposed rules is through the government website Regulations.gov, which hosts the proposed rules for viewing and a form the public can use to submit comments for consideration. The process can be a little bit confusing; these instructions will help you understand how it works:
1.    Do your homework! Check out our FSMA overview, issues page, and guidance on what to say. You don’t need to be an expert – but a little familiarity will help you tell your story.

  • Got questions? First check out FDA’s published Frequently Asked Questions documents for each rule. Still not sure? You can still comment! If the rules are unclear, FDA needs to know that too.

2.    Click on the appropriate commenting page in Regulations.gov – either the Produce Rule or the Preventive Controls Rule (food for animals and food for humans). Yep, there are multiple rules – and issues with both of them! – so commenting on both is best. Some issues affect both rules – this means you’ll have to submit a separate comment on each form for each rule if you want to comment on that issue – or you can submit the same set of comments to each rule if your comments address both rules.

3.    Click on the “Comment Now!” button on the right-hand side of the page.

4.    Enter your comments and personal and business information under Section 1, which is labeled “Your Information.”

5.    Add your comments: you can type them into the box, paste them in from another document, or upload a separate file. Whatever you do, prepare your thoughts ahead of time using a word processor like Word or good old-fashioned pen and paper! Note that there is a 5000-character limit for the box – this is about one and a half pages of single-spaced typed text or around 700-750 words – but that if you attach a separate file it can be as long as you’d like. If you think you have more to say, you should UPLOAD a separate document with your longer comments instead and type “See attached file” in the box.

6.    Enter your first and last name (or opt to remain anonymous).

7.    (Optional) Click the box that says “I want to provide my contact information” and enter your ZIP code and email address. It’s a good idea to provide your contact information so that FDA can follow up with you if they have questions, and your contact information will not be made public.

8.    Select which category you fall into. There are many options, including “Individual Consumer” and “Food Industry” (“Food Industry” is what you should choose if you are a farmer or food processor).

9.    Click the “Continue” link to preview your comments and ensure everything is accurate on the next screen, which will be labeled “Your Preview”.  Note: you cannot edit your comment once you submit it – but if you see a mistake, you can click the “Edit” button at the bottom to go back and make changes.

10.    Click “Submit Comment” to officially submit your comment to FDA.

  • You did it! FDA will read every comment submitted. They may not respond to each comment individually but they will address the substance of these public comments publicly once the comment period has closed.

11.    A screen will appear with a confirmation number for your comment. Copy this down – you can use it later to ensure your comment was received. Your comment may not appear on Regulations.gov right away!

  • Having trouble? Check out the official Regulations.gov help page or contact the Regulations.gov help desk – they have both email and phone options (Phone: 1-877-378-5457).
  • Make a mistake? To make changes, submit another comment referring to your previous comment, correcting any errors and/or re-stating your position or opinion.
  • Want to submit additional comments? You can submit more than one comment – simply follow this process again!
  • Remember to keep a separate copy of your comment just in case! This way if you have a problem submitting it or need to reference it later, you’ve got a copy.

 


To Comment By Mail:

FDA will accept comments by mail on the re-proposed rules. The mailing address is: Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852

All submissions received must include the following:

  • Your Name
  • Your Organization (if any)
  • The appropriate docket number

If you want to comment on both rules, you can mail them together but must label your comments with BOTH of those docket numbers.

Note: FDA states that all comments received by mail may be posted without change to www.regulations.gov, including any personal information provided.

What Should I Say?

Here are some general guidelines to help your comment have its maximum impact:

  • Your story matters – be sure to share with FDA why this matters. Are you a farmer? Share how the rules might impact your farm. Are you a consumer? Make sure FDA knows the kind of food you like to buy from farmers and that you want to ensure these rules don’t unfairly burden those farmers.
  • Keep it polite and avoid profanity – remember that all comments will become part of the public record and will be read by FDA officials.
  • Make sure you have a clear “ask” for FDA – either about a specific issue or, broadly, about the importance of ensuring both safe food and thriving family farms.
  • Do not exactly copy someone else’s comment – for FDA to count your comment, it must be unique. You can make the same or similar points as another person, but you do need to add your own perspective as much as possible.
  • Looking for more tips on what makes a good comment? Check out this PDF from Regulations.gov.
  • What are we asking for, broadly? In short, FDA’s new food safety rules must:

- Allow farmers to use sustainable farming practices, including those already allowed and encouraged by existing federal organic standards and conservation programs.

- Ensure that diversified and innovative farms, particularly those pioneering models for increased access to healthy, local foods, continue to grow and thrive without being stifled.

- Provide options that treat family farms fairly, with due process and without excessive costs.

How Else Can I Help?

  • MAKE A COMMENT! – Be sure your voice is heard!
  • READ THE RULES  – They aren’t exactly beach vacation reading, but if you think you may be affected it is in your best interest to read and analyze them yourself! Farmers and processors who have a direct stake in these rules need to read them and start asking questions about what these rules might mean for their businesses.

                    – Links to the re-proposed rules will be posted online as soon as they are available to the public.

  •  SPREAD THE WORD – It’s critical that farmers and processors know what’s going on and have a chance to weigh in.  Share this website with them – and encourage them to take action.
  • SHARE YOUR STORY – are the new food safety regulations likely to substantially impact your business? We want to hear your story! Share it with us here.