AGRICULTURE & RURAL DEVELOPMENT POLICY COMMITTEE

Northeast States Association for Agriculture Stewardship (NSAAS)

The Northeast States Association for Agricultural Stewardship (NSAAS) was created in 1999 to provide a unified voice for northeast agriculture in the development of the 2002 Farm Bill. The Executive Committee is composed of the chairs, vice chairs and ranking members of the state legislative committees responsible for agriculture policy.

Committee Roster:

Co-Chairs:
CarolynPartridge

Rep. Carolyn Partridge, VT

FGarySimpson

Sen. R. Gary Simpson, DE

Recent Blog Posts:

NEWS & FEATURES

Food Safety Modernization Act released

Across the Northeast, produce farms are a major drive of the agriculture industry and the ehart of the “Eat Local” movement.
Since 2010, the Northeast States Association of Agriculture Stewardship has been tracking the changes coming to the farm as a result of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010. We have analyzed, met with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), officially commented, and tracked every iteration of the FDA regulations implementing the rule. And now, the final rule has been released.

The final rules are:
• Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption (Produce Safety rule);
• Foreign Supplier Verification Programs for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals (FSVP rule);
• Accreditation of Third-Party Certification Bodies to Conduct Food Safety Audits and to Issue Certifications (Third-Party Certification rule).

FDA also has published an Environmental Impact Statement for the Produce Safety rule. The final rules will be published in the Federal Register on November 27, 2015, the Friday after Thanksgiving. FDA has posted fact sheets and other materials explaining the final rules on its website (FSMA webpage).

FDA Deputy Commissioner Mike Taylor says these regulations apply a preventive approach to two areas where FDA regulation has previously tread lightly, farms and food imports.
Produce Safety

The final rule establishes minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables by farms. It includes the following key provisions:

• The definition of “farm” now includes both “primary production farms” and “secondary activities farms,” the latter being off-farm operations engaged in harvesting, packing or holding raw agricultural commodities provided by the “primary production farms.”
• For “farms,” the rule imposes requirements in the following five areas: (a) agricultural water quality; (b) biological soil amendments; (c) domesticated and wild animals; (d) worker training and worker health and hygiene; and (e) equipment, tools, and buildings.
• The final rule includes separate and highly prescriptive requirements applicable to sprouts.
• There are exemptions or modified requirements for producer rarely consumed raw, food grains, oilseeds, produce that is commercially processed.
• There are exemptions for farms that have average annual sales of produce of $25,000 or less.
• FDA says the water quality standards for agricultural water will be more flexible than those proposed, we will be reviewing it to see if this is true.
• FDA is developing a comprehensive training strategy to provide technical assistance to farmers.
• We will be further analyzing the entire rule so that legislators will have the information they need to respond to the rule or their constituents.

Annual Meeting

Plan on joining NSAAS and CSG/ERC members at the 2017 Annual Meeting, August 2-10, 2016 in Quebec!

NSAAS had a great meeting at the CSG|ERC 2016 Annual Meeting in Wilmington Delaware.

• The annual site visit looked at the depth of Delaware agriculture, from a 3000 acre grain farm that is on the water quality initiatives to the high tech research underway at the DuPont Stine Haskell Research Laboratory, participants experienced agriculture in Delaware, first hand.

• Challenges and Opportunities for Northeast Agriculture. Agriculture, aquaculture and forestry generate more than $71 billion and 379,000 jobs in the Northeast. The committee will engage in a discussion of policies and programs to support these wealth generating industries and the rural communities in which they operate, led by the Secretaries of Agriculture from several states attendees developed a plan for supporting the natural resource industries and the rural communities they surround. See the plan at (coming soon).

• The Bee Story. Pollinators are responsible for one in every three bites of food we eat, contributing more than 29 billion dollars to the U.S. economy. Pollinating insects have seen dramatic declines in the last two decades due to a wide variety of influences. This session will examine the facts related to bee populations and the factors influencing their decline. Dr. Galen Dively of the University of Maryland provided this handout.

• How to Grow the Aquaculture and Fishing Industry in the Northeast. Farmed and wild caught fish are the fastest growing animal food producing sector in the world. Approximately 50 percent of the global seafood market is farmed. The U.S. produces less than 10% of the seafood it consumes. The Northeast’s clean productive marine environment is ideal for sustainable aquaculture and fishing industries. This session will look at policies, challenges and needs of the growing industry and discuss whether there is a need for better coordination between regional agencies to grow the industry. John Ewart of the University of Delaware Sea Grant Marine Advisory Service provided this handout.

• Growing and Adding Value to the Forestry Industry. The forest products industry and the forestry sector in the U.S. have experienced extreme volatility, unprecedented challenges, and substantial change over the past two decades. Old operating assumptions have been challenged and discarded at an increasingly rapid pace. This session will focus on priority issues to support and help grow the industry that grows the trees. There is no handout from Dr. Charles Ray of Pennsylvania State University.

• Emerging Disease Treat Resolution. NSAAS, serving as the agriculture and rural development committee for ERC/CSG forwarded to the Executive Committee a resolution recognizing the serious economic, food safety and food security threats posed by the emergence of invasive animal and plant diseases like Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, citrus greening and invasive pine beetles and the role that state provincial and federal governments play in channeling resources and providing assistance to those affected by these disease. NSAAS strongly supports the funding strongly supports the funding necessary for more aggressive animal and plant disease research at all levels, biosecurity containment strategies, and sensitive approaches to information sharing. The resolution was approved by the Executive Committee (Click here to view it)