By Sarah Everhart
This article is not a substitute for legal advice. See here for the site’s reposting policy.
We have written many posts in the last few years on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the Produce Safety Rule (PSR). If you are new to the blog, check out this past post on the Produce Safety Rule and this post to figure out if FSMA applies to your operation. For more information and resources on food safety and FSMA, check out the food safety page of the ALEI website.
In brief, the PSR is a federal law applicable to growers of produce (produce that is typically consumed raw) who earn more than $26,632 (the limit in the law is $25,000 but it is adjusted for inflation) a year in gross sales. The PSR requires farmers to take preventive steps to minimize risk of contamination and keep certain records to prove that the required steps are being taken. The required compliance dates for the PSR vary based on the total gross income of the farm, the largest operations (those grossing more than $500,000 annually) were required to be in compliance by January, 2018, mid-size farms (those grossing between $250,000-$500,000 annually) are required to be compliance by January 2019 and small farms (those grossing between $25,000 – $250,000 annually) are required to comply by January 2020.
The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) entered into a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to administer the PSR and inspect farms for compliance. The MDA will begin inspections of the largest operations in 2019. To prepare growers for compliance with the PSR, MDA and the University of Maryland have held Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Grower Trainings across the state for the past few years. If you have attended a PSA Grower Training and still have questions about how to make your produce operation compliant with the PSR, consider requesting an On-Farm Readiness Review (OFFR).
The (OFRR) program was developed by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and in Maryland it is being coordinated by the MDA with assistance from the University of Maryland (UMD) and the University of Maryland Extension (UME). OFFRs are a free, voluntary, and non-regulatory service to assist produce growers in answering questions regarding compliance with the PSR. OFFRs are conducted by a team of 3-4 professionals from MDA, UMD and/or UME who will discuss and observe farm practices that may include growing, harvesting, and postharvest activities on the farm.
Farmers who have interest in having an OFRR of farm or who questions about implementation of the PSR should email Produce.Safety@maryland.gov, call MDA at 410-841-5769 or complete the OFRR request form online at http://mda.maryland.gov/fsma. Farmers that need general help with on-farm food safety including the PSR should contact Justine Beaulieu (by email: email@example.com or by phone: 301-405-7543).