Monday, December 29, 2008

GAPs - A threat to small and midsize farms

Here is a comment submitted for the rulemaking related to GAPs for fruits and vegetables. As the comment indicates, there is concern about the impact of GAPs going forward relative to the sustainability of small and mid-size farms...

There is not doubt that food safety is of paramount importance to Compass Group.

At the same time, I am concerned that the proposed GAP standards are not scale neutral and may undermined the future for small and midsize family farms, especially who have adopted environmentally sound production practices. As they stand, the standards encourage adverse environmental impacts (e.g. farmers tearing out buffer strips to reduce wildlife habitat and adding toxic agents to waterways to reduce the number of frogs that might jump into their fields). They also have the potential to further concentrate production in the hands of a diminishing number of very large players, thereby amplifying the scope and magnitude of the problem when food safety problems occur.

As a major buyer we are committed to grow our Buy Local purchasing initiative that would include the support of regional family farms where we do business. Our first preference is be to partner with farms who have adopted environmentally sound production practices. I would like to see a regulatory framework that actually achieves real food safety without creating barriers for small and mid-size growers and without undoing years of sustainable practices.

Marc Zammit, Vice President Corporate Sustainability Initiatives, Compass Group

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