DOAG: IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PRODUCE SAFETY RULE – FIRST STEPS



June 13, 2018

IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PRODUCE SAFETY RULE - FIRST STEPS
Katie Yuhas, Bureau of Regulatory Services

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg) and the University of Connecticut (UConn) Extension will be working together to conduct On Farm Readiness Review (OFRR)s for Connecticut farms.

An OFRR is a voluntary, non-regulatory review of a farm’s produce growing and handling activities. It is intended to help prepare farmers for implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR). Reviewers are meant to act as a resource, providing tools and insight to each farm to assist farmers in complying with the rule requirements.

The review is confidential, so what happens on the farm stays on the farm. If notes are taken, they will be given to the farmer. The reviewers will take no paperwork with them.

The OFRR is free and voluntary for Connecticut farms. It will help farmers implement or enhance on-farm produce safety practices, and provide an opportunity for a one-on-one personalized discussion about farm operations.

The intent of the OFRR is to help farmers align what they are doing with what is required in the PSR.

The OFRR was developed by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture and state University Extension programs, in cooperation with FDA, to help farmers understand the details and implications of the FSMA PSR.

The OFRR will help farmers who do need to comply with the PSR determine if they need to make changes on their farm in order to meet the requirements.

During an OFRR, a DoAg regulator and a UConn educator will answer any questions that the farmer may have about the PSR and provide suggestions. The farmer will be left with information on the PSR regulations, a list of technical assistance contacts, a list of required records, and a DVD to help with staff training.

A farmer interested in scheduling an OFRR must first go through the Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training course. In Connecticut, 153 people representing 115 farms are currently trained and eligible for an OFRR review.

Additional opportunities to take the Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training course will be offered in the fall of 2018 through UConn Extension.

To be placed on an email list for course notification contact Diane Hirsch at 203-407-3163 or diane.hirsch@uconn.edu.

Farms that need to comply with the PSR will be given first priority for scheduling of OFRRs. OFRRs will be available over the next three years.

To schedule an OFRR contact Katie Yuhas at 860-713-2537 or Katie.Yuhas@ct.gov. Reviews will typically be on Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the summer and fall. Other days of the week are available upon request.

In order to determine which farms fall within the FSMA PSR UConn Extension has distributed a Connecticut Produce Industry Assessment Questionnaire to Connecticut farmers.

Information from the survey will be used by DoAG to identify farms that might not be covered, might be exempted, or might need to follow the full rule.

The survey will ensure the proper information and trainings are available to best prepare Connecticut farmers for the inspections to come.

Every farmer that fills out the survey will be entered into a drawing to win one of two Connecticut Grown tents.

Many farmers have already completed the survey, which was distributed by email to an extensive list of farmers. 

Any farmer who has not received the survey by June 15, 2018 can contact Diane Hirsch at diane.hirsch@uconn.edu or 203-407-3163 to request a survey.


 FSMA FOR WHOLESALE PRODUCE BUYERS MEETING

The UConn Extension is hosting a free educational meeting at the UConn Storrs campus on July 17, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. for wholesale buyers of fresh produce from Connecticut farms.

This meeting, which is intended for, but not limited to, wholesalers, restaurants, and schools, will be regional in scope, and include buyers from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. 

Connecticut farmers often sell their product to buyers in neighboring states, and farmers from Massachusetts and Rhode Island are likely to sell to Connecticut buyers as well.

The purpose of this meeting is to educate wholesale produce buyers on what the new PSR means to them and also to the region’s farmers. Attendees will learn about the FSMA PSR, Preventive Controls for Human Food, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) audits, and other programs.

Speakers at the meeting will include DoAg Bureau of Regulatory Services Director Dr. Bruce A. Sherman, DoAg inspection staff working to implement the PSR, UConn and University of Rhode Island Extension educators, and a panel of local buyers.

To register for the event call 203-407-3163 or email Diane Hirsch at diane.hirsch@uconn.edu.