Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) cheered as "a victory for common sense" Thursday's Food and Drug Administration announcement that it will revise draft water quality rules that he says would have hurt Oregon fruit and vegetable growers.
“This decision by the FDA is a victory for common sense,"" Walden said. "I repeatedly encouraged the agency to listen to concerns from growers that the draft rules were unworkable and could drive many small farms out of business."
"I’m glad the agency has listened and agreed to revise these unworkable rules. We can make sure food is safe without putting Oregon farmers out of business. As this process moves forward, I’ll continue to encourage the FDA to work with growers to get this right,” Walden said.
Many farmers have pointed out that the original rules lacked common sense and a crop-specific approach, resulting in many of the proposed provisions being unworkable for growers.
In particular, Walden heard concerns from onion growers in Malheur County and pear and cherry growers in the Columbia Gorge.
Many growers were worried that grouping over 200 crops together in one category fails to account for differing risk profiles and production practices, which has led to the proposed requirements that may be unworkable or unnecessary for particular crops.
Walden and other members of Congress, including Reps. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), twice met with FDA Deputy Commissioner Mike Taylor to discuss growers’ concerns with the draft rules. After the first meeting, FDA officials travelled to the Pacific Northwest to hear from farmers first-hand.
In November, Walden met with researchers and onion growers at OSU’s Malheur County Experiment Station to learn about their research into the scientific basis of the food safety rules the FDA is developing.
For example, according to the research conducted at the station, dry bulb onions grown in eastern Oregon pose no risk of E. coli contamination. Walden presented that research to the FDA the following week.