David And Goliath

The Biblical tale of the battle between David and the giant Goliath became the symbol for an age-old struggle between the big and the small. By its nature, the interests of the big and the small are often at odds, and it is a struggle that has spanned the years over time.

We see it here at Florida Grower because we serve both large and small growers in our readership. It presents a challenge we don’t take lightly because we appreciate that we serve all of our readers regardless of size. Nowhere in recent history have we seen the divide so wide than between growers of differing size in the debate over food safety reform and legislation. We’ve read countless comments on both sides on our social network ProduceCommunity.com and news website GrowingProduce.com.

The food safety argument basically boils down to fairly simple terms. The small farmers believe new, stringent rules applied to all would unfairly require them to absorb unsustainable expenses to comply that should only be applied to large growers. After all, they argue, large growers are supplying large amounts of produce in the channels of commerce, therefore more likely to result in mass foodborne illness outbreaks.
Large growers argue, with the support of key produce associations, that rules must apply to all growers who produce food for sale to the public. After all, they say, one bad apple, big or small, paints the entire industry with a bad brush if a food safety scare occurs. If a small grower that has been exempted of new rules has a problem, it will be the whole industry that suffers.

The conversation has been ongoing online. One small grower noted: “I for one would like to have someone tell me what was the last contaminated food outbreak that came from a small farm. We can police ourselves and that is what has been occurring at the larger farms through organizations such as the Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh. These are the big farmers and processors that really have the need to watch their food safety, not the little guy.”

A larger grower stated his case this way: “Sorry, contamination is an equal opportunity catastrophe — size doesn’t matter. In Washington state, we just had another artisan cheese company linked to an E. coli outbreak. Several others have had recalls because of Listeria in 2010. All of these are micro-sized or ‘small’ growers. I do not believe a heavy handed government bureaucracy is the answer, but using size as a get-out-of-jail-free card to a food safety program seems irresponsible.”

What is clear to me is regulations can’t be so onerous that they put the smaller grower out of business. Some of the fees and record keeping obligations may do just that. That’s not right. But, we must recognize, to a consumer, a food scare in tomatoes means all tomatoes are bad, no matter what.

Does the Food Safety Modernization Act with its Tester amendment strike the right balance between big and small? We’ll dig into this major revamping of food safety regulations next month. We want to present the arguments and appreciate that big or small growers have the same goal — to provide a living for their families and feed the world.

Leave a Reply

Citrus Stories
Florida orange juice label close-up
Oranges
August 22, 2016
Major OJ Purchase Promises Relief For Florida Citrus Sector
$30 million planned acquisition from USDA to be used for surplus removal. Read More
sweet-orange like hybrid peel
Varieties & Rootstocks
August 22, 2016
Florida Citrus Breeders Squeezed For Time
The pressure is on to develop a more HLB-tolerant orange. Read More
Farmers Almanac 2017 Winter
Citrus
August 19, 2016
Rough Winter In Store For Much Of The U.S.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac and its competitor The Farmers’ Almanac predict the 2016-2017 winter will be cold for much of the country. Read More
Chuck Allison of Spring Valley Farms inspects a young citrus tree
Citrus
August 18, 2016
Florida Farmer Takes Fresh Approach To Growing Citrus
New easy-peel, seedless varieties offer market potential. Read More
2016 Donald Trump in Iowa (Photo Credit: Trump for President Campaign)
Citrus
August 18, 2016
Trump Campaign Announces Agricultural Advisory Committee
Just three of the 64 are directly involved with fruits and vegetables, all three are Californians. Read More
California Orange Harvest
Citrus
August 16, 2016
Growth Of California Specialty Citrus Continues To Soar
Acreage of mandarin and mandarins is up 83% in past eight years, though navel oranges remain the dominant citrus crop. Read More
Postbloom Fruit Drop symptoms on Florida ctirus
Citrus
August 15, 2016
First Stab At Florida Citrus Production Predicts Dire Decline
Elizabeth Steger estimates crop will drop by 26%. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
August 24, 2016
Florida Citrus Granted New Incentive To …
A state-backed $5.5 million grove renovation/re-establishment program is now available and accepting applications. Read More
Citrus
August 24, 2016
Meet Florida’s 2016 Woman Of The Year In…
Dedication to fostering the state’s farming future defines the latest winner of longtime honor. Read More
Citrus
August 19, 2016
Rough Winter In Store For Much Of The U.…
The Old Farmer’s Almanac and its competitor The Farmers’ Almanac predict the 2016-2017 winter will be cold for much of the country. Read More
Citrus
August 18, 2016
Florida Farmer Takes Fresh Approach To G…
New easy-peel, seedless varieties offer market potential. Read More
Citrus
August 18, 2016
Trump Campaign Announces Agricultural Ad…
Just three of the 64 are directly involved with fruits and vegetables, all three are Californians. Read More
Citrus
August 16, 2016
Growth Of California Specialty Citrus Co…
Acreage of mandarin and mandarins is up 83% in past eight years, though navel oranges remain the dominant citrus crop. Read More
Citrus
August 15, 2016
First Stab At Florida Citrus Production …
Elizabeth Steger estimates crop will drop by 26%. Read More
Citrus
August 12, 2016
Second Half Of Atlantic Hurricane Season…
After a relatively sluggish start to the campaign, revised forecast foresees increased tropical activity ahead. Read More
Citrus
August 10, 2016
Therapeutic Cannabis Culture Taking Off …
Another licensed nursery gets the go-ahead; makes deliveries to patients in need. Read More
Citrus
August 10, 2016
Protect Yourself From The Zika Virus [Op…
The University of Florida is on the front lines of the battle against mosquito-borne diseases. Read More
Citrus
August 9, 2016
Florida Farmers Need Not Sink Amid Algal…
In the wake of an algal bloom disaster, growers need to be prepared, proactive, and farm smart. There is much at stake. Read More
Citrus
August 9, 2016
Water Quality Win Streak Continues For S…
Despite record rainfall, producers in the Everglades Agricultural Area again exceed phosphorus reduction standards. Read More
Citrus
August 8, 2016
National Sustainable Agriculture Coaliti…
Comprehensive reports help readers understand the rules for produce farms and food facilities. Read More
Citrus
August 5, 2016
Move Over, El Niño, La Niña To Affect Fa…
U.S. forecast calls for cool, wet conditions in the Northwest; drought to continue in West; warmth in the East; and stormy in the Southeast. Read More
Citrus
August 4, 2016
Tips To Prevent Heat-Related Illness
Heat exposure can cause several illnesses, early treatment and recognition can help prevent life-threatening heat stroke. Read More
Citrus
August 3, 2016
Topsy-Turvy Weather Trend Continues In S…
Seasonal scripts flipped as region reports the 10th driest July on record. Read More
Citrus
August 1, 2016
Zika Fears In Florida Spark War Declarat…
State agriculture commissioner calls for aggressive control efforts amid new local cases involving viral health threat. Read More
Citrus
August 1, 2016
NASA: First 6 Months Of Year Warmest To …
Scientists at NASA say two key climate change indicators — global surface temperatures and Arctic sea ice extent — have Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]