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FDA officials tour N.C. farms during regulation discussion

By Johnny Chappell | News 14 Carolina

ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. – Officials from the FDA toured two of the state's farms Monday and heard concerns about proposed food safety regulations from farmers.

The listening tour goes on as Congress considers tougher rules regarding everything from irrigation to storage following food safety scares in recent months.

"The ramifications of new rules and regulations on food safety can adversely affect our farmers, our agribusiness, and we're an economy in North Carolina that's built on agribusiness," State Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said.

Alex and Betsy Hitt hosted the guests from the FDA at their Alamance County farm.

"We're certainly tickled that people from the federal government would come down and listen," Troxler said. "I think that any time government listens before the act, the results are much better."

One of the big concerns of local farmers is making sure the FDA doesn't apply a one-size-fits-all approach for those who produce mass amounts of food for use all over the globe and those who survive on a couple of acres of land.

"We really want to come up with a system that's flexible enough that a full range of farmers can take advantage of the marketplace and at the same time we can protect food safety," said the FDA’s Mike Taylor.

It's a marketplace most farmers say already stretches their budget, and they say more regulations could put them out of business. For now, they're happy those who make the rules seem to be listening.

FDA officials say they will tour other farms in other states over the next two years.


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