News Releases

April 10, 2015

New Survey Will Help Farmers Prepare for FSMA Produce Safety Rule

Farms that Grow, Harvest, Pack, or Hold Fresh Produce May be Impacted

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets (VAAFM) is working with farmers to help prepare for implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

FSMA is the most sweeping reform of our nation's food safety laws in more than 70 years, and was signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011. FSMA aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it.

Today, the Agency is announcing the launch of the Vermont Produce Safety Survey & Interactive FSMA Resource, to help farmers determine how they may be impacted by FDA's Produce Safety Rule.

All Vermont farmers who grow, harvest, pack, or hold fresh produce -- even if primarily engaged in another type of farming -- are encouraged to take this survey. Information collected through the survey will help VAAFM understand how the Produce Safety Rule will affect Vermont farms and prepare to assist farmers before the rule is implemented. It will help farmers determine whether the rule applies to their operations, understand requirements under the rule, and learn about compliance timelines.

"While some Vermont growers may not be directly impacted by FSMA," said Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross, "we expect that buyers will increasingly require growers to be FSMA-compliant, and our hope is that by engaging directly with the produce industry to provide outreach, education, and technical assistance, we will best prepare them for FSMA implementation and industry-wide changes—which in turn will meet growers' needs as well as protect public health."

Secretary Ross has worked closely with FDA to ensure final FSMA rules that are feasible for small-scale and diversified agriculture and remains committed to protecting the Vermont brand and its reputation for quality. The results of this survey will be key to understanding how FSMA and increased market demand for food safety will impact Vermont produce growers and will help VAAFM develop the optimum produce safety program for the state of Vermont.

The survey is publicly available at www.surveymonkey.com/s/vtproduce

Respondents may call Kristina Sweet at (802) 522-7811 to take the survey over the phone.

The Produce Safety Rule, officially titled Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption, is one of seven new rules proposed by FDA under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The Produce Safety Rule will be finalized in October 2015 and implemented over the next 2 to 5 years. The rule covers the production of raw agricultural commodities that are commonly consumed raw, such as strawberries, lettuce, melons, and spinach.

In order to complete the survey, respondents will need estimates of their farm, business, or organization's annual sales of both produce and all food -- including animal feed -- as well as general knowledge of their farm, business, or organization's food safety practices. VAAFM requests that only one response be submitted per farm, business, or organization.

VAAFM will not use data collected through this survey to identify any individual, farm, business, or organization. Please contact Kristina Sweet at kristina.sweet@state.vt.us or (802) 522-7811 with comments or questions about the survey.

To learn more about the Food Safety Modernization Act and Produce Safety at VAAFM, visit http://agriculture.vermont.gov/food_safety_consumer_protection/fsma

Contact: Kristina Sweet, Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets; kristina.sweet@state.vt.us; (802) 522-7811

Source: Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets
Last Updated at: April 10, 2015 12:36:16