DOAG: REGULATORY OVERSIGHT OF AGRICULTURAL COMMODITIES




February 13, 2019

REGULATORY OVERSIGHT OF AGRICULTURAL COMMODITIES

Wayne Nelson and Kate Ciarletta, Bureau of Regulatory Services

 

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg) has regulatory oversight over a wide range of agricultural commodities sold and/or produced in the state. 

It is not surprising to most that DoAg’s Bureau of Regulatory Services regulates the safety of food products including dairy products and now produce. 

However, the role of the bureau’s Food Safety and Agricultural Commodities unit in regulating other commodities of importance to farming operations and consumers may be surprising.         

The diverse functions and programs administered by the Food Safety and Agricultural Commodities Unit may not enjoy the high visibility of other DoAg functions and programs but are, nevertheless, important to the public, agricultural businesses, and the environment.

The staff of DoAg’s Food Safety and Agricultural Commodities Unit assures the safety, integrity and truth in labeling of agricultural commodities offered for sale within the state.

 In addition to enforcing the Produce Safety Rule of FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the Food Safety and Agricultural Commodities Unit conducts inspection and enforcement activities associated with nine other programs mandated by state and/or federal laws and regulations. 

The Commercial Feed Program regulates the manufacturing and distribution of animal feed and pet food.  One function of this program is to register product labels to insure that false or misleading information is not provided. 

A guaranteed analysis and ingredient statement must be provided on every label so there is uniformity of all labels facilitating consumers in making an informed purchasing decision. 

Last year 12,208 labels from 606 companies were reviewed and registered.  Eighty-eight samples of feed were submitted to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) for analysis to ensure compliance with label claims. 

Investigations are also conducted for any livestock feed or pet food product complaint that may be injurious to animal health.

DoAg is midway through the Animal Feed Regulatory Program Standards (AFRPS) grant from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There are 11 program standards which serve as the basis to evaluate and improve aspects of feed regulation in Connecticut. Through this grant, DoAg is able to enhance the safety of animal feed, pet food, pet treats, and animal supplements in Connecticut and nationwide.

The Commercial Fertilizer Program regulates agricultural and nonfarm use fertilizers (home, garden, lawns, golf courses, etc.).

The Fertilizer Program requires registration of labels that must include net weight, brand, grade (percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium), the guaranteed analysis, name and address of registrant, and the sources from which the nutrients are derived. 

In the last fiscal year, 3,540 labels from 320 firms were reviewed and registered. Sixty-eight samples were submitted to CAES for analysis match against the label guarantees. 

Also under the Fertilizer Program, firms that distribute fertilizer in Connecticut are required to report the tonnage shipped into Connecticut and the breakdown of the guaranteed nutrients in that fertilizer.  This information is reported to the Fertilizer Institute and the University of Missouri for publication.

The Seed Program regulates agricultural and vegetable seeds. The state statutes require each container of agricultural and vegetable seed sold in Connecticut to have a label or tag attached to it.

The requirements differ depending on whether it is a seed mixture for lawn or turf, agricultural field crop seed, or vegetable seed.  Last year, 320 vegetable seed and 15 turf and agricultural seed samples were submitted to CAES for germination and analysis.

DoAg presently has 80 registered seed labelers. The administrator of the Seed Program is also responsible for enforcement in Connecticut of the Federal Seed Act.

The Soil Amendment Program regulates the labeling of soil amendments. Soil amendments are defined as any substance intended to improve the physical or chemical characteristics of the soil.

The labels are required to have the net weight, a brand name, a guaranteed analysis, a list of all soil amending and inert ingredients, the purpose of the product, directions for application, and, lastly, the name and address of registrant.

DoAg presently has 486 products from 195 firms registered.  Exempted from these statutes are animal or vegetable manures, compost, and pesticides that are not manipulated or changed from their original form.

Another program is that of Agricultural Liming Materials. An agricultural liming material is defined as a product containing calcium and magnesium compounds capable of and used for neutralizing soil.

The label must have the name and address of the manufacturer or distributor, the brand name of the material, the type of agricultural liming material, the net weight, the minimum percentage of calcium oxide and magnesium oxide, and a statement of the finest of particles.  At present there are 114 registered products.

The Controlled Atmosphere Storage Program is a certificate program that monitors apple producers who store their produce under refrigeration and low oxygen conditions to extend the shelf life of apples. 

This past season, five orchards were registered and 64 inspections of controlled atmosphere rooms were conducted.  This resulted in eight certificates being issued for compliance with controlled atmosphere storage requirements.

The Small Poultry Processor Inspection Program is for poultry growers in the state with their own slaughter operations.

To participate, producers must slaughter fewer than 5,000 turkeys or fewer than 20,000 total poultry species. 

Poultry producers must also meet the requirements of the Federal Poultry Products Inspection Act and any applicable provision of the Code of Federal Regulations. There are presently two firms registered in this program. 

The Shell Egg Inspection Program is for egg producers that have more than 200 but fewer than 3,000 birds. 

It involves egg room sanitation inspection and the quarterly audit of shell egg grading to insure the proper size and grade is being assigned to the eggs. 

There are currently two registered egg producers in the program.  Compliance with the requirements of this program creates additional opportunities for relatively small egg producers to market their eggs.