The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is mailing out materials to 8,000 ‘small’ and ‘very small’ farming operations to inform producers what is expected of them under the Produce Safety Rule (PSR). The educational letters will be accompanied by a questionnaire that will need to be returned to CDFA no later than August 31. The questionnaire will assist with the prioritization of inspections, as well as verify which commodities are grown and determine which farms may qualify for an exemption.
CDFA has established the Produce Safety Program (PSP) to assist with the implementation of the PSR through educating producers as to what requirements will need to be met. The PSP is also responsible for conducting on-farm inspections on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Educational resources are available through the PSP website, including registering for a Produce Safety Rule Grower Training Course, as well as scheduling an On-Farm Readiness Review. At least one employee from a farming operation covered under the PSR will need to complete the training course.
Inspections began in April for “large” produce farms that have average annual sales of more than $500,000 over the last three years. Operations considered ‘small’ farms, which have average sales between $250,000 and $500,000, are already expected to be in compliance with the rule as inspections are scheduled to begin at the start of 2020. Farms with average annual sales of $25,000 to $250,000, considered to be ‘very small’ farms, will have until January 2020 to become compliant. Inspections for ‘very small’ farms are set to begin in January 2021.
The PSR is the component of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act that was passed back in 2011 meant to address foodborne illness outbreaks. Any farming operation that does not adhere to the requirements set forth in the PSR will be subject to economic, regulatory, and legal consequences.