Things to note: if you aren't in the US and don't export to the US, you can ignore. If you sell less than $25K per year, almost none of it applies. If you sell less than $250K per year, you get a ramp up period.
If discussion level warrants, we can start separate threads on the key provisions like water quality, animals and manures, etc.
As the extension officer said, don't shoot the messenger. These rules were under an FDA review process for years. If you don't like 'em now, your recourse is your congressional representatives. This thread is to discuss how we are moving forward, not how we got here. That train left long ago.
As far as I can tell, the more laws and rules get passed, the more they are ignored. I see lots of violations at every farmer's market that I visit. The farmers ignore them. The customers ignore them. The agricultural inspector ignores them. The market management ignores them. People buy and sell black market tamales in the Walmart parking lot. Illegal milk, eggs, cheese, meat, bread, and fruits are readily available. Seems to me like the government is flat-out-broke. There simply isn't enough money left to enforce the new regulations. About the only thing the agricultural inspector cares about is collecting the licensing fees.
And with the inflation monster being what it is, $25,000 might not even buy a tomato next year.
I'll just do what I always do. When sprouts become illegal, I'll grow squash. When squash becomes illegal, I'll grow corn. When corn becomes illegal, I'll harvest weeds.
I've been researching FSMA stuff and I wanted to bump this thread... has anyone had any actual run-ins with federal inspection? I've heard some FUD from other farmers here in California and I am planning a barn so I wanted to avoid any FSMA pitfalls since I am just in planning stage.
For instance I have heard scary stories like "FSMA means even small farmers need a completely enclosed building to wash produce" But I don't see that in the law, except for sprouts. One thing I do see is that even small farmers must do water quality tests and have a toilet and running water hand-washing station for workers at the produce picking/packing site, which might be a tough one.
BUT the exemption for farms that sell more than 50% of value to end users seems like a healthy loophole for most people on this forum: end user is the home consumer OR a local restaurant. However it's unclear to me from the fed site whether this "qualified exemption" is automatic or if you have to apply for it. So if anyone has any experience w/ FSMA now that we're a few years on and the rolling timelines for compliance are starting to hit please chime in.
The State Police, the Game Wardens, the Marine Patrol, the Dept of Environmental Protection, the Sheriff's Office, the Forest Service, the Town Police, the Department of Human Services, etc...all bring their cases down to the District Attorney's Office. In my county, there is her, and one other assistant. She is so overwhelmed, not to mention being a former DEFENSE attorney who is VERY lienient, that there is no way she would even bring charges against someone for these "violations".
I have two pieces advice for people if someone does show up. Let them talk, and when they are done, no matter who they are, just say, "I am not saying anything until I talk to my attorney." Say it multiple times if you have too, but do not say anything else but that. As an American, you have that right, and 95% of the time it will stop whatever they are doing. They know they are not getting much over on you if you have an attorney.
If you do say something later, just ask, "Do you really think you can convince a jury of my peers that such an offense is really a crime?" It is a serious question, and lets them know right up front, you are not rolling over, and they are in for a battle. That stops the nonsense too.
I am not just a computer cowboy on this. I had to tell this stuff when a Forest Ranger showed up on my farm and gave me a supena to appear before a Grand Jury. I do not know what he thought I was going to do, but I was not too impressed even when he puffed up like a blowfish serving me papers. He must not had much of a case because the Grand Jury never brought any charges against me though. Probably because I had to tell him three times I was not saying anything without speaking to my attorney first.
Gotcha, and it sounds like good advice for enquiries on your turf but I'm thinking less about a criminal action than a bureaucratic one here: if you fail to meet a checklist and your cert gets pulled for a farmers market, it can mean a significant loss of income for you the farmer. When you show up at the market you're on their territory.
Someone from the department of making me sad busted some grandma's earlier this summer at the Jackson TN farmers market for selling homemade canned goods that weren't canned in a USDA inspected kitchen. I'll stop here and keep my opinions to myself since we're outside the cider press.
"Study books and observe nature; if they do not agree, throw away the books." ~ William A. Albrecht