Travis Chapin, state specialized Extension agent with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), discusses deadlines and some requirements for fresh fruit growers to comply with the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
“The compliance date for the largest farms, those with over $500,000 in annual produce sales, is January 26, 2018,” Chapin says. Growers with $250,000 to $500,000 in sales must comply by the same date in 2019. Growers with sales of $25,000 to $250,000 must comply by the same date in 2020.
Chapin says the first thing growers should do to comply is take a training course. “We have some of those scheduled throughout the state this fall,” he says. “And then there’s some required records that everyone needs to keep … They depend on the practices of your farms … Everyone needs the worker training record and an inspection of the water system annually, and then there are some other records that may be required depending on different practices.”
An on-farm site visit is available to help growers prepare for compliance. “We’re partnering with FDACS (Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services) on that and (with) the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture,” Chapin says. “So we’re hoping to roll that out this November … That’s a great opportunity to have someone from FDACS and from IFAS come onto your farm, look at your practices and compare those to the regulatory requirements and help you get in compliance with the rule before the inspection starts.”
Chapin summarized the FSMA requirements for hundreds of citrus growers attending Citrus Expo seminars in North Fort Myers in August.
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