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by Amanda Perez - October 27, 2017
The Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA, meant to strengthen safeguards in the
U.S. food supply, has a new rule for produce growers and the Cooperative Extension
Service will be helping Arkansas farmers obtain needed certification.
Dr. Amanda Philyaw Perez, assistant professor for the University of Arkansas System
Division of Agriculture, will spearhead the outreach for the Cooperative Extension
Service as its produce safety educator. Outreach begins in November.
“The overall Food Modernization Safety Act may represent change in the way producers
run their operations,” she said. “The new regulations are meant to shift from reacting
to outbreaks of food-borne illness to preventing them.”
“My job will be teaching Arkansas producers about the requirements and how to obtain
certification and to meet the goals of this act, specifically the Produce Safety Rule,”
Dr. Perez said.
Controls where possible
On farms, in the outdoors, there are many factors that cannot be controlled. However,
the new regulations and the training that goes with the implementation will focus
on educating growers about good agricultural practices that may help to prevent contamination
common to most farming environments.
For example, standards have been proposed for agricultural water, farm worker hygiene
or cleanliness, compost and sanitation conditions affecting buildings, equipment,
Produce growers with annual sales of more than $500,000 of any food must comply with
the rule by Jan. 26, 2018. Those with sales between $250,000 - $500,000 must be compliant
by 2019. Producers with sales between $25,000 - $250,000 must be compliant by 2020.
There are exemptions, including produce grown for personal or on-farm consumption,
produce not consumed raw, produce that receives commercial process to reduce pathogens,
items on the “rarely consumed raw” list, including okra, peanuts, pecans, chickpeas
and sweet potatoes.
Most producers must participate in training, but even those farms that meet criteria
for exemption may want to participate to learn about practices, ease consumers concerns,
and prepare in advance if exemption status were to change.
Even if farmers were certified or audited Good Agricultural Practices and/or Good
Handling Practices, they must still attend a Produce Safety Alliance grower training
if the farm is not exempt, Dr. Perez said.
“While the GAP/GHP requirements are similar to the Produce Safety Alliance grower
training, qualified farms must meet the requirements for completing a one-day PSA
training,” she said. This includes implementing practices outlined in the training
and undergoing an Arkansas Plant Board Inspection.”
Training locations and dates are listed below. You must register to be able to attend
one of these workshops. Please visit our website for registration: www.uaex.uada.edu/arkansas-produce-safety
A survey is available to help producers and processors determine how their farms will
be affected by the Produce Safety Rule. Visit the website to complete the survey or
for more information about the Produce Safety Rule, www.uaex.uada.edu/arkansas-produce-safety, or contact Dr. Perez at email@example.com.