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Small Farmers Worry Safety Laws Could Halt Local Food

Federal officials say they appreciated hearing from northern New England farmers about proposed food safety rules, but some of the farmers didn't find the experience very valuable.

Hundreds of farmers from Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire attended Food and Drug Administration public hearings last week to discuss proposed rules that require them to take new precautions against contamination. Deputy FDA Commissioner Michael Taylor says many of them will likely be exempt from the rules but don't realize it.

New England farmers have argued that many aspects of the rules derived from large-scale farming practices that don't apply to smaller farms, and they fear the cost of compliance will drive them out of business. Others say the uncertainty will stifle growth just when the local food movement is gaining steam.

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