Reps. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) led a meeting Wednesday with other members of Congress and top officials at the Food and Drug Administration to directly convey concerns they have heard from onion farmers and fruit growers about new water quality rules that could cripple family farms nationwide.
Walden and Simpson invited the FDA officials to travel to Oregon and Idaho, and the officials are planning a trip to Oregon, Idaho, and Washington next month to hear from Northwest growers first-hand.
“When I heard concerns from Eastern Oregon farmers, particularly onion growers, about new water quality rules the FDA is drafting, I asked for a meeting with the agency to air these concerns directly," Walden said.
"I’m pleased that the agency has agreed to work with farmers as the rules are drafted, and that they are willing to travel to eastern Oregon and Idaho to hear from onion producers and other growers there directly,” he said. “A practical, common-sense rule will help achieve the goal of greater food safety without placing unnecessary regulatory burdens on American farm families that could drive them out of business.”
“I’m greatly concerned about the impact the FDA’s proposed rule will have on agriculture in Idaho,” said Simpson. “With an administration that seems to issue an abundance of rules and regulations for all industry, it is especially important that we seek input from Idaho producers to ensure that we reach an effective and sensible solution.”
The FDA delegation was led by Mike Taylor, Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine. Other members of Congress present included Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.), and Rep. Dan Benishek (R-Mich.).
On June 21, Walden traveled to Nyssa, Ore. and met with onion growers who are concerned that the new regulations, as currently drafted, could force them out of business. Additionally, Walden has heard similar concerns from apple and cherry growers in the Columbia Gorge.
Walden said many farmers have pointed out that the proposed rule lacks common sense and a crop-specific approach, resulting in many of the proposed provisions being unworkable in the field, literally speaking.
Walden and Simpson said they also have heard from growers who are worried that grouping over 200 crops together in one category fails to account for differing risk profiles and production practices, which has led to the proposed requirements that may be unworkable for particular crops.