This page contains resources for produce farmers related to COVID-19, as well as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.
COVID-19 Resources for Produce Farms
These resources are intended as a supplement to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture's page of state and federal resources.
For Covid-19 related industry guidance for food and agricultural businesses, please see the following on the Stay Safe Minnesota website.
Do you know of additional resources that we should share? Please let us know.
University of Minnesota Extension
- COVID-19 response plan template and FAQ for fruit and vegetable farms. This template can be used by farms to develop a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan, as required for Critical Businesses per Executive Order 20-74. Other templates are available, including the standard Department of Labor and Industry template available on the main MDA resource page.
- Information about COVID-19 as it relates to daily on farms practices: How the virus is known to spread and steps produce farmers can take to minimize its spread on the farm.
- Information that farmers may want to take into consideration regarding logistics, communication, and business preparedness.
- Five short videos about COVID-19 on the farm, including information about transmission, use of masks, cleaning and sanitizing, tips for farmers market settings, and ideas for social distancing. Also available in Hmong and in Spanish (below).
In Spanish/ en español
- La grabación de un seminario sobre COVID-19: Lo que sabemos y como responder en su granja. El semanario fue hecho con el Centro de Desarrollo Económico Latino, la Universidad de Minnesota Extensión, y el Departemento de Agricultura de Minnesota.
- The above link is a webinar recording titled COVID-19: What we know and how to respond on your farm.
- Guía para un Plan de Acción pro COVID-19 en Granjas de Frutas y Verduras. Una plantilla para granjas. Otras plantilla existen también, incluyendo uno estándar del Departmento de Trabajo e Industria de Minnesota.
- Cinco videos breves en cuanto a COVID-19, incluyendo información sobre transmisión, el uso de mascarillas, la limpieza e higienzación, buenas prácticas en el mercado de agricultores, e ideas para mantener la distancia en la granja.
Webinar, Podcasts, and Educational Resources
The need to maintain social distancing has contributed to an abundance of webinars, podcasts, and other online information-sharing. Here are some resources we are aware of:
- Recordings are available from a series of webinars the Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships hosted on a variety of topics in response to COVID-19, including food safety
- The Minnesota Farmers Market Association is hosting open zoom forums on the first and third Mondays of the month, 1:00pm.
- Farm Commons has continually released new podcast episodes and webinars in response to COVID-19. Topics include legal consideration for sick leave policies, and the legal mechanics of online sales platforms.
- The Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) has launched a new podcast. Several episodes relate to COVID-19, including one on food safety with Annalisa Hultberg from the University of Minnesota Extension.
- The National Young Farmers Coalition released a comparison of direct sales software platforms. The University of Vermont Extension also published an overview of various online sales platforms.
If you feel like you're having a hard time staying afloat, either financially or emotionally, know that you're not alone. Please consider these resources available to you:
- Black farmers, Indigenous farmers, and farmers of color who have lost markets or sales can apply for the Local Emergency Assistance Food Fund (LEAFF). LEAFF is not a grant, but a guarantee to buy up to $5000 of produce from each accepted farm during the 2020 season. Find additional application details on the fund's website.
- Assistance from the MDA Rural Finance Authority Disaster Recover Loan Program is available to help farmers whose operations are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
FSMA Produce Safety Rule Resources & Other Topics
The Produce Safety Rule
- FSMA Final Rule on Produce Safety - updates and context on the Produce Safety Rule from the Food & Drug Administration
- The full text of the Produce Safety Rule
- Produce Safety Rule Compliance Dates - note that in order to know which compliance date apply to you, you'll need to confirm your status per the rule
Farm Status & Qualified Exemptions
- This video from the University of Minnesota Extension provides an overview of the different statuses that can apply to a produce farm per the rule, and how to know which might apply to you
- Overview of the labeling and record keeping requirements for farms that are eligible for a Qualified Exemption - in webinar format, and in a factsheet from the UMN Extension
- Notice on the FDA Guidance for Farms Eligible for a Qualified Exemption - for Qualified Exempt farms that shifted their marked sales in 2020 due to COVID-19 disruptions, regarding their farm status in 2021
- How and Why To Test Your Farm's Water - background information on water testing, not specific to the standards of the Produce Safety Rule
- Water Testing under the Produce Safety Rule - allowable water testing methods for farms that are covered by the rule
- Map of Water Testing Labs in Minnesota
- Calculators - links to several tools that help covered farms determine their Microbial Water Quality Profiles
Cleaning & Sanitizing
- Cleaning and Sanitizing Food Contact Surfaces - information for all farms, not specific to the standards of the Produce Safety Rule
- FSMA Record Keeping Guide - A collection of blank record templates created by Missouri Department of Agriculture, with examples and optional supporting documents
- Records Required by the FSMA Produce Safety Rule - A Produce Safety Alliance document summarizing required PSR records
Produce Safety Program and Inspections
- What does the MDA Produce Safety Program do with your personal information?
- What to expect during an inspection
- Pre-Inspection Checklist
Guidance documents demonstrate the FDA's current thinking on a topic. These documents do not change the existing rule, but instead provide a broad range of recommendations on how to meet the requirements for most subparts of the rule.
- Draft Guidance for Industry: Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption
- Draft Guidance for Industry: Compliance with and Recommendations of Implementation of the Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption for Sprout Operations
- Draft Guidance for Industry: Classification of Activities as Harvesting, Packing, Holding, or Manufacturing/Processing for Farms and Facilities
- University of Minnesota Extension On-Farm Food Safety Program
- Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) is a collaboration between Cornell University, FDA, and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to prepare fresh produce growers to meet the regulatory requirements of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule
Non-FSMA Related Resources
- Organic Agriculture in Minnesota
- Produce Safe Locally-Grown Produce to Commercial Food Establishments & the General Public
- Food Licenses - for businesses selling food items other than products of their own farm or garden
- Wholesale Produce Dealers Licensing - for businesses that buy produce and other farm items directly from farmers and re-sell it
- Cottage Food Law Guidance - for individuals interested in making and selling certain non-potentially hazardous foods and canned goods without a license
- Fruit and Vegetable Inspections - for information on USDA grade and/or condition inspections of all fresh produce and as well voluntary Good Agricultural and Good Handling Practices (GAP/GHP) audits that MDA conducts. These are different services that the inspections administered by the Produce Safety Program
- Minnesota Grown Cost Share Program - if you are developing a new label, tag, bag, box or permanent sign and would like to add the Minnesota Grown logo directly to your packaging, you may be eligible to receive up to $200 reimbursement in the current fiscal year
- Gardening in Urban Soil - considerations and tips on how to prepare land in urban settings