FSMA impacts for artisanal cheesemakers

Ruth & Lori Babcock, Tieton Farm & Creamery in Tieton, WA

Ruth & Lori Babcock, Tieton Farm & Creamery in Tieton, WA

Small farmers everywhere will be impacted by Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules. In a recent webinar, Lori Babcock, co-owner of Tieton Farm & Creamery in Tieton, WA described the devastating impact of large Food & Drug Administration (FDA) fees and FSMA recordkeeping burdens on her livestock farms and dairy. She shared her concerns in a webinar called “FSMA – Its Impact on Artisan Cheesemakers” hosted by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) Office of Compliance & Outreach in mid-September.

Cheesemaking is an ancient craft. Microbes work their magic on milk and basic ingredient creating a variety of tasty, nutritious cheeses. European cheesemakers can use and reuse wicker baskets and boards to make their aged cheeses. In America, we have to compete with those products while our rules require stainless steel and plastic containers.

Recent studies have concluded that diverse microbial activity in the gut increases human health. Different microbes used to make cheese affect its flavor as do the animal’s breed, forage, minerals and water.

Large commercial operations use modern equipment and steel tanks to comply with sanitation and food safety rules. “Their products may be safe, but their cheese doesn’t taste like anything,” said Babcock.

FSMA shifts the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) focus from reactive to preventive action. [Read more here]

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About Sanne Kure-Jensen

Sanne Kure-Jensen is a frequent contributor to Country Folks, Country Folks Grower and Wine & Grape Grower bringing regional and national attention to agriculture in RI and across southern New England. She has also written for newsletters of the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA), Holistic Management International (HMI), RI Beekeepers Association and RI Tree Council. Read Sanne’s work at her Sustainable Living page at examiner.com. Sanne has written successful grant applications for alternative energy projects, staff and board training, products and services. Clients include agricultural businesses, farm stand/markets and non-profit organizations. Recent successful grant projects include a $90,000 USDA Rural Development‘s Rural Energy For America Program (REAP), $10,000 Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Farmer and $20,000 Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Innovation Grant (CIG). Sanne is the part-time Administrator for NOFA/RI, a Rhode Island Certified Horticulturist and beekeeper. She is a NOFA Accredited Organic Land Care Professional and has lectured across southern New England on Beekeeping, Native Pollinators and Ecological Landscape Design. Learn more about the NOFA’s Land Care programs or contact Sanne for a garden consultation through the NOFA/RI website.
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