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Act now on Food Safety Modernization Act regulations

Take Action Now on Food Safety Modernization Act Regulations!

The “Indian Country Food Safety Modernization Act Working Group” is asking tribes and those with Native agricultural interests to take action on proposed regulations that are being formulated under the Act.  This comes after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) issued two new proposed regulations earlier this year, but did so without any tribal consultation.

The deadline for public comment on these regulations is mid-September 2013.

There can be substantial effects on tribal governments and tribal food and agriculture interests under these regulations, including:

  • Considerable costs to implement at the farm and business level
  • Timeframes for implementation that do not consider the unique needs of Indian Country
  • Impacts on our tribal sovereignty in the enforcement of these regulations

Because of the comment deadline and the potential impact on tribal interests, the working group has developed five recommendations to support tribes in responding to this situation.  We urge all tribal leaders to take the following actions:

  1. Designate a staff person to participate in the ongoing conference calls of the Indian Country Food Safety Modernization Act Working Group. (The group currently includes First Nations, the National Congress of American Indians, the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, the Intertribal Agriculture Council, the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, and the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative). See contact information below.
  2. Create awareness of these regulations among your food producers and food businesses.
  3. Send a letter to the FDA to express your concern that no tribal consultation was undertaken before these proposed regulations were published. See sample language below.
  4. Sign on to receive updates to the regulations or create your own comments to the regulations at this link: http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/ucm261689.htm#rulemaking
  5. Contact the FDA and HHS to express your concerns about the regulations.

Any tribe that has food production on their lands, or business interests in food and agriculture activities, is urged to stay engaged with our efforts.  We intend to continue regular communications and work with tribal food producers and businesses in order to ensure Indian Country has a voice in these regulations, and that issues unique to our production, lands, businesses and tribal governments are elevated.

To become involved with the Working Group:

If you are a tribe, tribal department or organization in Indian Country working on food-related issues and are interested in joining the group, please contact Raymond Foxworth at First Nations Development Institute by email at rfoxworth@firstnations.org.

To send a letter to the FDA, you can use this address and language:

(Date)

Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg
Food and Drug Administration
WO Bldg. 1, Rm. 2217
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20993

REF: Docket No. FDA-2011-N-0921
Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption

Dear Commissioner Hamburg:

(Insert your tribe name) is requesting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration adhere to HHS policy as part of an active outreach and consultation with tribes during the open comment period for the Docket referenced above.  Especially as the proposed rule in the Docket impacts tribal- and Native-owned agricultural operations that are also regulated by the USDA, and in light of the USDA’s own tribal consultation policy and practices, the FDA should adhere to the HHS Tribal Consultation Policy and take action to meet its responsibilities in Indian Country as soon as practicable.
 
Due to the impact this Proposed Rule will have on tribes and tribal agricultural operations as well as its potential economic and workforce impacts on tribal and Native-owned operations, NCAI has encouraged tribes to file and will be filing comments in response to this Proposed Rule.  (Insert your tribe name) is requesting the FDA to take immediate action to consult with us concerning the impacts of these proposed rules and all other rules implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act, passed by Congress in 2010.

Sincerely,

(Your name and title)