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

Featured Stories
storm clouds moving across a field
Citrus
February 12, 2016
There’s No Excuse For Farmers To Be Weather Unaware [Opinion]
Studies show if you're not watching the weather, you should be. Read More
John Lawson of Hyrdro Harvest Farms in Ruskin, FL
Berries
February 12, 2016
Central Florida Farm Goes Vertical To Capture ‘Buy Local’ Market
Hydro Harvest Farms in Ruskin has built a loyal following by serving and engaging the community. Read More
Lynn Long talks about what this 2015 UFO Benton on Gisela 3 planting needs to get established at Riveridge Land Company in Sparta, MI, during IFTA 2016.
Fruits
February 11, 2016
Attendees Brave The Cold To Vet Hot Topics At IFTA Conference
Multileader systems, V-trellis systems on tour stops throughout the Ridge growing region in Michigan. Read More
Summer Foley gets crowned Miss Florida Citrus 2015 by 2004 winner Nikki Upthegrove Matthews and reigning Miss Florida Vicotria Cowen
Citrus
February 10, 2016
Who Will Be Crowned Miss Florida Citrus 2016?
Contestants invited to carry on a time-old industry tradition. Read More
field USDA
Disease Control
February 10, 2016
Broad-Spectrum Fungicide Approved For Specialty Crops In California
Rhyme controls powdery mildew, brown rot blossom blight, and leaf rusts. Read More
A selection of Andean dry beans, Phaseolus vulgaris, from the Andean bean diversity panel.

 

Photo by Stephen Ausmus.
Vegetables
February 10, 2016
Pulse Crops Top The List For Research
Scientists are making global contributions by participating in the Feed the Future Grain Legumes Project. Read More
The restoration of this secondary channel of the Napa River was made possible through the Rutherford Reach Restoration Project.
Photo: Gretchen Hayes
Grapes
February 10, 2016
Restoring The Napa River
The Napa River, which has helped create soil perfect for grape-growing in the Napa Valley, is in danger. Fortunately, conscientious Read More
Almond Board of Calif. logo
Nuts
February 10, 2016
Almond Board Working Toward Next-Generation Sustainability Solutions
New sustainability initiatives will bring the almond industry into the 22nd century. Read More
Photo Credit: David Eddy
Nuts
February 10, 2016
Incentives Available For Low-Emission Harvesters 
Almond and walnut growers who use lower-emission harvesting equipment may be eligible for financial incentives. Beginning this year, the USDA Read More
pile of potatoes
Potatoes
February 10, 2016
Potatoes Are More Than A Good Source Of Potassium
Researchers have been investigating the enhancement of oxidative qualities through breeding potato selections that are considerably higher in antioxidants than those currently available. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
February 12, 2016
There’s No Excuse For Farmers To B…
Studies show if you're not watching the weather, you should be. Read More
Berries
February 12, 2016
Central Florida Farm Goes Vertical To Ca…
Hydro Harvest Farms in Ruskin has built a loyal following by serving and engaging the community. Read More
Fruits
February 11, 2016
Attendees Brave The Cold To Vet Hot Topi…
Multileader systems, V-trellis systems on tour stops throughout the Ridge growing region in Michigan. Read More
Citrus
February 10, 2016
Who Will Be Crowned Miss Florida Citrus …
Contestants invited to carry on a time-old industry tradition. Read More
Disease Control
February 10, 2016
Broad-Spectrum Fungicide Approved For Sp…
Rhyme controls powdery mildew, brown rot blossom blight, and leaf rusts. Read More
Vegetables
February 10, 2016
Pulse Crops Top The List For Research
Scientists are making global contributions by participating in the Feed the Future Grain Legumes Project. Read More
Grapes
February 10, 2016
Restoring The Napa River
The Napa River, which has helped create soil perfect for grape-growing in the Napa Valley, is in danger. Fortunately, conscientious Read More
Nuts
February 10, 2016
Almond Board Working Toward Next-Generat…
New sustainability initiatives will bring the almond industry into the 22nd century. Read More
Nuts
February 10, 2016
Incentives Available For Low-Emission Ha…
Almond and walnut growers who use lower-emission harvesting equipment may be eligible for financial incentives. Beginning this year, the USDA Read More
Potatoes
February 10, 2016
Potatoes Are More Than A Good Source Of …
Researchers have been investigating the enhancement of oxidative qualities through breeding potato selections that are considerably higher in antioxidants than those currently available. Read More
Equipment
February 10, 2016
Get Your Sprayer Ready For Spring
Cleaning equipment, checking for damages, and ensuring proper calibration should be standard procedure before the season begins. Read More
Crop Protection
February 10, 2016
Bayer Contests EPA’s Decision On Insecti…
Company seeks to stop agency’s proposed cancellation of flubendiamide. Read More
Vegetables
February 10, 2016
Vegetable Production: A Lesson In Sustai…
Thanks to the efforts of those producing vegetables, we have an abundance of healthy food options. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
February 9, 2016
University Of Florida Research Receives …
A big chunk of the federal funding will focus on growing the bacterium in a lab. Read More
Citrus
February 9, 2016
Revised Forecast Yields Small Victory Fo…
Updated USDA estimate holds serve again; hasn’t dipped since December. Read More
Apples & Pears
February 9, 2016
State Of The Fruit Industry 2016 [VIDEO]
According to an national poll of fruit growers, fruit industry suppliers, and researchers, the market is poised for growth in Read More
Crop Protection
February 9, 2016
Biopesticides And IPM
Dr. Surendra Dara, Strawberry and Vegetable Crops Advisor and Affiliated IPM Advisor with University of California Cooperative Extension, has long Read More
Fruits
February 8, 2016
Precision Fruit Growing, Business Manage…
American Fruit Grower magazine managing editor Christina Herrick posts her updates from the 59th annual gathering. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]