Keeping up with regulations to ensure your farm is using best practices can be daunting.
Extension can provide fundamental, science-based, on-farm food safety knowledge to
fresh fruit and vegetable farmers, packers, regulatory personnel and others interested
in the safety of fresh produce in Arkansas.
What are the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the Produce Safety Rule?
The FSMA is a federal act that requires producers and processors of fresh fruits and
vegetables to implement certain controls to prevent contamination of our nation’s
food system. The act authorizes the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish
regulations for the production of fresh fruits and vegetables (The Produce Safety Rule) and regulations for processors (The Preventive Controls Rule).
The Produce Safety Rule (PSR), outlined in Section 105 of FSMA, establishes science-based
minimum standards for safe production and harvesting of fresh fruits and vegetables.
These standards are based on a foundation of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs). The
rule is divided into several parts, including standards for:
- Worker health, hygiene, and training
- Agricultural water, both for production and post-harvest uses
- Biological soil amendments (e.g., compost, manure)
- Domesticated and wild animals
- Equipment, tools, buildings, and sanitation
- Production of sprouts
Does the Produce Safety Rule apply to me?
The Produce Safety Rule went into effect in January 2018. View the September 2017 Updated Guidance Report.
If you produce fruits and vegetables that are sold and then consumed raw (i.e lettuce,
apples, etc), and you gross more than $25,000 (adjusted for inflation) per year, the short answer is: Yes.
Rules for when producers must be in compliance with the new regulations, including
participating in specialized training and when or if they may be inspected, vary based
on the size of the operation.
The Small Entity Compliance Guide (SECG) provides information that can help small and very small businesses understand
how the requirements of the PSR apply to them. Specifically, the SECG can help farmers determine whether they are
eligible for a qualified exemption, which would modify the requirements they are subject
to under the PSR. The SECG can also help them understand those modified requirements. Even producers who are exempt from the PSR should follow basic food safety rules as
a part of good farm management practices.
How is the FSMA Produce Safety Rule different from a GAP audit?
Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) are voluntary audits for produce operations administered by the USDA. The basic
difference between these two systems is that FSMA is a federally mandated program
growers will be required to comply with, whereas GAP is a market driven program that
is not required by law. GAP certification is often a requirement for selling to markets
like grocery stores or regional distributors. Both systems share many of the same
principals, but they are not identical. Growers who have GAP certification are not automatically compliant with FSMA.
Experience with GAP certification however will likely help you to be well on your
way to compliance with FSMA. One unique difference is that FSMA will require attendance
at an FDA approved food safety training course.
How can I get help to understand how this relates to my farm?
Once you have completed the PSA Grower Training, you can sign-up for a free, confidential review
of your Farm Safety Program with the Extension Produce Safety Team. For this review,
called On-Farm Readiness Review (OFRR), members from our team will visit your farm
to observe and discuss your food safety practices. The OFRR will reiterate the information
taught in the Grower Training and offer an educational approach to the key risk areas
identified. We will provide feedback and recommendations for your farm food safety
practices. For more information on the OFRR visit, check out Preparing for an OFRR.
For more information or to request an On-Farm Readiness Review (OFRR), please contact
Julia Fryer at (501) 671-2181 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once growers that are subject to the rule have completed the PSA Grower Training and
their OFRR (if requested), they are then ready for their inspection from the Arkansas
Department of Agriculture which will put them in full compliance with the FSMA Produce
The Preventive Controls Rule
The Preventive Controls Rule is another component of the FSMA. It applies to food
processing facilities, including fresh cut fruit and vegetable operations. Specific
rules and regulations designed to prevent contamination of the nations food supply
at the processor level is the goal of these new regulations. More information is available
on the FDA website and in the links below as to who must comply with these rules and what the new regulations