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Maine, N.H., Vt. host food safety sessions

The New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont agriculture departments are hosting listening sessions next month to offer farmers a chance to learn about proposed federal safety rules.

The sessions Aug. 19 in Augusta, Maine, and Aug. 20 in Hanover will focus on proposed rules for implementing the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, which aims to increase the safety of the nation’s food supply.

The Maine hearing is at the State Armory and the New Hampshire one will be held in the Alumni Hall Auditorium in the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth College.

All growers, manufacturers, and anyone interested in fresh produce safety and manufacturing of human food are encouraged to comment on the proposed rules. The comment period will remain open until Sept. 16.

A May letter sent to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg from senators and representatives from New England says the rules could hurt farmers financially in the region.

The letter says it appears many aspects of the rules were derived from large-scale farming operation practices that don’t represent many of New England’s 33,000-plus farms. It said the average farm in New England is only 110 acres and many have yearly sales totaling under $10,000.

New Hampshire U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen and Rep. Annie Kuster had led the group of senators and representatives to call on the FDA to come to New England.

“Our farmers
represent a vital part of our economy and they deserve protections from excessive, burdensome regulations,” Shaheen and Kuster said in a statement.

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