Many of our modern food safety laws were written in response to how most food is produced in America— through a long, industrialized food chain. But these rules and regulations don’t always reflect the realities of a smaller-scale, more transparent, local food system. They can cause burden and confusion for small producers, limiting their success. Montana’s current patchwork of confusing and complicated food safety rules are a problem for Montana’s farmers and food entrepreneurs, and future federal-level changes that are on the way could cause further complications.
One of the most common-sense things we can do to support local food in Montana right now is fix the tangled web of food regulations that local producers must navigate in order to bring their products to market. Doing so would keep more money in our communities and increase the availability of healthy, local food for all Montanans. Grow Montana engages and educates producers, eaters, and policy makers at all levels to ensure that Montana’s food regulations line up with our vision of a robust and healthy Montana-based food system. Explore the links below to learn more:
The Montana Food Policy Modernization Project
Mandated by HB 630, passed during the 2013 legislative session, this project brings together three state agencies, county regulators, producers, eaters, and community members to streamline Montana’s food regulations. Grow Montana is participating in this process through public comment and as an advisory committee member. Food for thought: State extends comment period on safety regulations (Great Falls Tribune, 2/5/14)
Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)
Passed in 2011, FSMA is the most sweeping overhaul of federal food safety laws for over 70 years, and could potentially disrupt many ongoing efforts at creating local and sustainable food systems. During the fall of 2013, Grow Montana helped coordinate and encourage comments from folks across Montana who might be impacted by FDA’s proposed regulations.
Farmers market producers fear new FDA rules could put them out of business (Missoulian, 11/11/13)
FDA extends commenting on new rules that concern Montana growers (Missoulian, 11/15/13)
Thanks to thousands of comments received from people across the country, the FDA plans to release a second version of the proposed rules for comment sometime during 2014—Stay tuned for news and updates on how you can get involved.