New food-safety rules cause worry for farmers

RALEIGH -- Farmers from across the state are worried that potential food-safety legislation could hurt their livelihoods and forever change the way they operate.

A meeting Monday at the State Fairgrounds brought together farmers, representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, plus state agriculture officials.

It was one of several "listening sessions" planned by the FDA to solicit input on how new guidelines regarding the safety of agricultural produce in America should be written.

A panel of six farmers took turns telling the officials about their concerns, which stem from a new food-safety bill that has been passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and is awaiting action by the Senate.

Despite the state's shift to technology and science, farming is still a major industry in the state, with sales of crops totaling more than $2.9 billion in 2007.

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