UACES Facebook Arkansas Produce and Farm Food Safety | Who needs to comply with the produce safety rules?
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Arkansas Produce Safety

Keeping up with regulations to ensure your farm is using best practices can be daunting. Extension provides science-based, on-farm food safety knowledge to:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetable farmers,
  • Packers,
  • Regulatory personnel and
  • Others interested in the safety of fresh produce in Arkansas.

Our team provides a number of resources and training opportunities to prepare produce farms in Arkansas to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR). Please read below for more information on:


What are the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the Produce Safety Rule?

The FSMA is the food safety regulatory framework to prevent microbial contamination that leads to foodborne illness. The act comprises seven rules. Two of these rules authorize Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish regulations for the:

The Produce Safety Rule (PSR), outlined in Section 105 of FSMA, establishes science-based minimum standards for safe production and harvesting of fresh fruits and vegetables. These standards are based on a foundation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs). The rule is divided into several parts, including standards for:

  • Worker health, hygiene, and training
  • Agricultural water, both for production and post-harvest uses
  • Biological soil amendments of animal origin (e.g., compost, manure)
  • Domesticated and wild animals
  • Equipment, tools, buildings, and sanitation
  • Production of sprouts
strawberry in basket

Does the Produce Safety Rule apply to me?

The PSR went into effect in January 2018. View the September 2017 Updated Guidance Report.

If you produce fruits and vegetables that are sold and then consumed raw (i.e lettuce, apples, etc), and you gross more than $25,000 (adjusted for inflation) per year, the short answer is: Yes.

This is sometimes referred to as being a "covered farm" under the PSR.

Rules for when producers must be in compliance with the new regulations, including participating in specialized training and when or if they may be inspected, vary based on the size of the operation.

The Small Entity Compliance Guide (SECG) provides information to help:
  • small and very small businesses understand how the requirements of the PSR apply to them,
  • farmers determine whether they are eligible for a qualified exemption and
  • requirements of a qualified exemption status. 
All producers, including those who are exempt from the PSR, should follow basic food safety rules as a part of good farm management practices.
mixed leaf lettuce

How is the FSMA Produce Safety Rule different from a GAP audit?

Good Agriculture Practices are voluntary audits for produce operations. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the GAP certification program. GAP certification is often a requirement for selling to grocery stores or regional distributors.

GAP certification does not equal compliance with FSMA.
The basic difference between these two programs is:
  • FSMA is a federally mandated program growers must follow, whereas,
  • GAP is a market driven program that is not required by law.
Having experience with GAP certification will help you understand FSMA compliance. Both systems share many of the same principals, but they are not identical. One significant difference is that FSMA requires attendance at an FDA approved food safety training course.
Visit the Arkansas Department of Agriculture webpage to learn more about the Arkansas GAP Federal/State Inspection Program.
woman holding basket of veggies shopping at a farmer's market

How can I get help to understand how this relates to my farm?

Once you have completed the PSA Grower Training, you can sign-up for an On-Farm Readiness Review (OFRR). This free, confidential review of your Farm Safety Program is conducted by the Extension Produce Safety Team. Members from our team will visit your farm to observe and discuss your food safety practices. The OFRR is an educational tool to reiterate the information taught in the Grower Training and to identify key risk areas on your farm. We will provide feedback and recommendations for your farm food safety practices. For more information on the OFRR visit, check out Preparing for an OFRR.
To request an On-Farm Readiness Review (OFRR), please contact Dr. Amanda Perez at (501) 671-2228 or
To be fully compliant with the FSMA, growers that are subject to the rule must complete the PSA Grower Training and their OFRR (if requested). After this, they will then then be ready for their inspection from the Arkansas Department of Agriculture.
box of peaches in field

What is the Preventive Controls Rule?

The Preventive Controls Rule (PCR) is another rule under the FSMA. It applies to food processing facilities, including fresh cut fruit and vegetable operations. The goal of the PCR is to prevent contamination of the nations food supply at the processor level. View the FDA website and the links below to learn about this rules and the requirements.