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!
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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
Here are some general guidelines to help your comment have its maximum impact:
- 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.
– Links to the re-proposed rules will be posted online as soon as they are available to the public.