The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) is reminding Minnesota produce growers of new on-farm inspections that are required under the Produce Safety Rule which is part of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The MDA’s Produce Safety Program began inspecting large produce farms as of June 2019. Inspections on small and very small farms, as defined by the rule, will begin in spring of 2020 and spring of 2021 respectively.
Minnesota produce growers are encouraged to fill out a questionnaire that will aid the MDA in determining how the rule applies to their farm. The questionnaire is available online. This questionnaire is optional, but farmers who opt out will be contacted by the MDA via email, phone, or in person to identify their farm status and inspection requirements under the rule.
“Inspections will be scheduled in advance with produce farmers and our intention is to focus first on education before we would regulate,” said Valerie Gamble, Manager of the MDA Produce Safety Program. “Together with the University of Minnesota Extension Produce Safety staff and our farm community stakeholders, we are committed to providing food safety resources, information, and technical assistance to help farmers be complaint with the Produce Safety Rule and to help ensure safe produce for Minnesotans.”
As a reminder, fruit and vegetable farmers that grow, pack, harvest and/or hold produce and that do not qualify for an exemption or exclusion from the Produce Safety Rule are required to have one person attend a standardized food safety training. Monitor the MDA website and the U of M Extension website for upcoming class announcements starting in the fall of 2019.
To learn more about MDA Produce Safety inspections, view the What to Expect- FSMA Produce Safety Rule Inspection Process resource or contact the MDA’s Produce Safety Program at 651-539-3648.
Margaret Hart, MDA Communications