The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) wraps up its 2016 Winter Policy Conference today and the influential group is laying down some tracks others may have to follow. The 2016 NASDA conference is also celebrating 100 years of “advocating agriculture.”
NASDA is player on food safety at both the national and state levels. This year, members attending the Winter Policy Conference passed a resolution calling for an “expanded collaborative role” for state departments of agriculture with the Food and Drug Administration in “the proper implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) beyond the Produce Safety Rule.”
NASDA is a bipartisan group that includes top agricultural officials from the states, including department directors and the various appointed and elected state commissioners of agriculture. Kathy Coba, who heads the Oregon Department of Agriculture for Gov. Kate Brown, sponsored the resolution calling for more coordination on FSMA.
Coba chairs NASDA’s Food Regulation Committee.
Under a cooperative agreement with FDA, NASDA has had a role in implementing the produce safety rule that has focused on training and consistent compliance. The new produce rule is a sensitive area of FSMA because it extends regulations to growers who may not be familiar with working with FDA.
“FSMA does not stop at safe produce,” says NASDA President Greg Ibach, who is also director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture. “There are also broad implications for agriculture in both the Animal and Human food rules.
“Additionally, we must continue to spread domestic awareness of rules affecting imported foods. All of this must be done with a shared goal of reducing the incidences of food borne illnesses and creating an overall workable program that allows our producers to maintain viable operations.”
NASDA also weighed in with support for biotechnology in agriculture in all its forms by listing its support for all the various elements involved, including endorsement of FDA as the authority for determining “appropriate food labeling.”
State ag officials say they support the current regulatory framework for technology providers seeking approval of “new biotech traits in the global marketplace,” and that allows “low-level presence of biotech trait” in seed, commodities or products produced from a commodity so long as it does not pose a plant pest risk or a health or environmental concern.
Further on food labeling, NASDA supports “a voluntary, federal system so as to avoid a patchwork of state-by-state standards” for foods “containing or not containing” genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
At its closing session today, state agriculture chiefs will hear from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and the House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders, Rep. Colin Peterson, D-Minn., and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. Peterson is the House committee’s ranking member and Roberts chairs the Senate Committee
After that, the NASDA policy conference attendees are scheduled to finish up with “Hill visits.”
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