State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball announced recently that the state Department of Agriculture and Markets is implementing new produce safety standards as required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
FSMA was signed into law on the federal level to encourage a proactive, preventative approach to food safety on farms. The state Department of Agriculture and Markets has been conducting outreach and actively educating New York farms that are required to meet these new standards. The Department is currently scheduling visits to large farms to ensure that these food safety practices are being applied and to assist growers during the transition period.
“The Produce Safety Rule represents the way we need to be looking at food safety, with a comprehensive, preventative approach,” Beal said. “Our growers take great care in producing food the right way and already implement many of these food safety practices, whether it be through the participation in the voluntary NYS Grown & Certified program or the USDA’s Good Agricultural Practices programs. We are committed to working with our growers and our produce stakeholders to ensure they are educated and aware of these new requirements that take us one step further in our food safety efforts.”
To help increase awareness of the new produce regulations and encourage compliance from the businesses and farms impacted by FSMA, the Department hosted multiple outreach training events in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension, Farm Bureau, various grower associations, terminal markets representatives, and retailers.
The Department’s goal is to educate growers and those affected by this rule by ensuring that they perform the following three steps 1) complete the farm information form to determine if their farm is required to meet the new standards, and if so, 2) attend Produce Safety Alliance training, and 3) request an On-Farm-Readiness Review (OFRR) educational visit prior to an inspection taking place.
The Produce Safety Alliance training is a collaborative effort among Cornell University, the United States Department of Agriculture and the FDA. Through funding provided by the FDA, the Department will supplement the cost of this required training. To register for the training, visit: https://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu.
The OFRR will help educate growers and managers to become compliant with the Produce Safety Rule prior to their inspection. The review is conducted by trained experts from the Department, Cornell and other organizations. Growers interested in taking advantage of the OFRR can email the Department at: Aaron.Finley@agriculture.ny.gov or Steve.Schirmer@agriculture.ny.gov.
Currently, farms that are required to adhere to FSMA’s Produce Safety Rule and that will be inspected are large farms with an average annual monetary value of produce sold during the previous three years of more than $500,000. Compliance dates and inspections for small farms (less than $500,000 more than $250,000) and very small farms (less than $250,000 more than $50,000) will be staggered in the coming years.
Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, said, “Preparing our state’s growers to meet the latest food safety standards is part of Cornell’s commitment to advance understanding and improve life throughout New York State. We are proud to help implement vital and preventative efforts to protect our food supply.”
David Fisher, New York Farm Bureau President, said, “New York Farm Bureau values the partnership and educational outreach that the Department of Agriculture and Markets has offered through the rollout of the Produce Safety Rule. Our farmers are committed to producing safe, high-quality food for consumers in our state and beyond, and we continue to encourage them to participate in training programs that will build on their strong safety record.”
Additional information on FSMA can be found at www.agriculture.ny.gov/FS/general/fsma.html.