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Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Are you Exempt, Qualified Exempt or Covered by the Rule?

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This article comes from the NOFA/Massachusetts 2018 June Issue Newsletter

By Laura Davis, Soil Technical Assistance Co-Coordinator

You have been hearing about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) for years now. If you have been wondering how this might impact your farm, now is the time to find out. 2018 is a preparation year. The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources wants to assist farms to prepare for FSMA now. In 2019 MDAR will begin enforcement.

Check out this chart to figure out where your operation lies in terms of coverage. Read more about how the requirements of FSMA and the National Organic Program intersect. If you are a certified organic farm this is useful information for co-compliance of both rules.

From the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture:

MDAR Produce Safety News – Program Update

The MDAR Produce Safety, Market Access and Certification Program is continuing its deployment of program objectives in support of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule’s (PSR) implementation in Massachusetts.

To support these objectives the program has deployed five regional Produce Safety experts this year who will be serving fruit and vegetable farms across the Commonwealth. Regional personnel will be supporting growers through education, training, and on-farm technical assistance and will serve as first line responders to farms requesting service in each region. Regional staff will also be responsible for conducting pre-audits/inspections, on-farm readiness reviews, as well as market access and certification support for Massachusetts Good Agricultural Practices (MGAPS), under the Commonwealth Quality Program (CQP). The MGAPS/CQP program will incorporate current PSR requirements into an integrated checklist this year supporting future uptake/compliance windows as well as anticipated market demands. The Program will also continue to support the USDA GAPs/Harmonized GAPs program for the 2018 production year.

Farm Registration

The Produce Safety Team is currently supporting the population of a farm inventory database of those farms growing fruits and vegetables in the Commonwealth. All fruit and vegetable farms in Massachusetts are strongly encouraged to register through the submission of a farm registry form to facilitate program operations and sector support. Regionally deployed Program staff are currently conducting phone calls and site visits within their assigned regions to verify farm registry data, introduce themselves to farmers and their staffs, and to provide technical assistance and grant support to farms in anticipation of compliance dates and market access requests. Please feel free to share your concerns and challenges along with any questions you may have with your regional contact. Their job is to assist you with any concerns you may have. Registration forms will be available during visits and will be made available on-line shortly.

Once again, if you’ve been a member of the Commonwealth Quality Program (CQP), please be reminded that the requirements of the audit program have been harmonized with the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Safety Rule. You’ll learn more about this during your 2018 visit. Please call us to register and/or to schedule your audit for the upcoming season if you have not received an outbound contact from regional staff. The Department’s focus is to establish a robust Produce Safety program that promotes public health protection in line with its core mission of working to ensure its farms are economically and environmentally sustainable now and in the future.

With questions, contact Commonwealth Quality Program Coordinator, Michael.Botelho@state.ma.us or 617-626-1721.

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