The Consumers Union, the Cornucopia Institute, and small farmers and consumers across the county all agree: The new regulations proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding the safe handling of leafy greens will give large industrial farms an advantage over smaller operations.
In response to a number of E.coli outbreaks that were traced back to packages of 'pre-washed' spinach, the USDA issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, and recently wrapped up an invitation for public comments.
The proposal, which many are referring to as 'one size fits all,' will require a uniform set of growing and harvesting rules that will be hard for small farmers to implement. This makes even less sense when you consider the fact that the E.coli outbreaks center around the processed bagged spinach, not the fresh greens that one finds at farmers markets. According to the Cornucopia Institute, the rules are likely to require testing for pathogens at every harvest, and ban the use of certain organic fertilizers.
We all agree that E.coli contamination is a problem, but is this the best way to keep the public safe?