Saturday August 17, 2013 | 04:00 AM

Maine farmers will have the opportunity to tell the Food and Drug Administration what they think about new food safety rules that could harm their businesses on Monday at a special meeting in Augusta.

Michael Taylor, the deputy commissioner for food safety at the FDA, who has been criticized by some groups because of his links to Monsanto, will be at the Augusta  Armory  on Western Avenue from 9:30 to 12:30 a.m. Monday for a “listening session” with farmers.

The FDA is implementing new rules passed in the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act , the most comprehensive reform of food regulations in more than 70 years.  Small, sustainable farms that grow a variety of crops and sell directly to consumers through farmers markets, farm stands and CSAs could be subject to the same regulations as large industrial producers.

Small farmers argue that they are all for food safety and protecting public health, but  the rules should fit the size of the risk.

Maine Agriculture Commissioner Walt Whitcomb says the produce safety rule in particular will require big changes in the way Maine produce growers and packers do business.

The New England Farmers Union is encouraging anyone who can’t make the hearing to submit questions to info@newenglandfarmersunion.org

Here’s the schedule:

9:30 a.m. Opening remarks from Walt Whitcomb, Maine agriculture commissioner

9:40 a.m. Remarks by Michael Taylor

9:50 a.m. FDA officials present proposed rules

10:10 a.m. Testimony from U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine

10:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Testimony from processors and producers

About the Author

Meredith Goad has harvested oysters on the Chesapeake Bay, eaten reindeer in Finland and sipped hot chai in the Himalayas. She writes the weekly Soup to Nuts column and enjoys a good cocktail.

Meredith can be contacted at 791-6332 or mgoad@pressherald.com
On Twitter: @meredithgoad


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