FDA ruling after Hurricane Irene

The FDA has issued a blanket ruling prohibiting any produce that was under flood waters after the hurricane from being sold for human consumption. It applies to every farm along the east coast, with no allowance for case-by-case exceptions. The principle behind it is that flood waters may have carried bacteria or other pathogens into the fields, but on a certified organic farm that gets its irrigation from the very river that overflowed, there should be an actual inspection to determine what steps should be taken. This ruling will shut down most farms in the Hudson Valley for the rest of the year.

Stoneledge Farm and the Kavakos family need our help. They have vegetables in the fields that can still be harvested–they are dirty, and the harvest would be smaller than a normal autumn, but they are there. As of right now, though, they are not permitted to send that produce to us, their CSA members. This is a devastating turn of events.

What can we do? We can contact our state and federal representatives and the New York State Department of Agriculture and urge them to work with the FDA to change the ruling. Please, if you have a minute, take some time and contact whoever you can to let them know this ruling must be adjusted. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture–this is a chance for our community to give some support to the farm.

Some contact information is below, and past that is the wording I used for the NYS Ag & Markets office, in case that’s useful to anyone.

New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets
(At the moment, about 11:45am, this page isn’t loading, which I hope means the office is being bombarded with CSA members contacting them about this issue.)
(800) 554-4501

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Twitter @SenGillibrand
(212) 481-2010

Senator Charles Schumer
Twitter @ChuckSchumer
(212) 486-4430

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney
Twitter @CarolynBMaloney
(212) 987-5516

“I’m writing regarding the FDA ruling on farm produce that was underwater after the hurricane. A blanket rule prohibiting all affected farms from selling produce is unfair and will put many of them out of business. The FDA should inspect farms individually to see if that prohibition is necessary. I understand that the ruling is meant to protect consumers from pathogens, but it needs to be made on a case-by-case basis in order to allow these small businesses to survive for another season.”

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