Efforts are underway to reach out and educate Iowa’s produce growers on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Produce Safety Rule.
A cooperative partnership between the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is leading the efforts. Outreach activities have included training sessions, presentations at state and regional produce conferences, and offering resources and expertise on this key part of the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
“A primary goal of the Produce Safety Rule is prevention of food borne illnesses rather than responding to outbreaks,” Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig said. “The rule focuses on science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption.”
Beginning in November, 2017, and running through March of 2018, team members of the state’s cooperative produce safety partnership have delivered ten training sessions to Iowa’s produce growers.
Ten additional classroom trainings will be offered beginning this fall.
The day long events provided growers the necessary information needed to be in full compliance with the law, learn about exemptions, and receive informational resource packets that assist growers in developing farm plans to comply with the law.
To date over 250 individuals representing 197 Iowa farms have participated in these trainings.
Additionally, on-farm reviews are available this summer to larger growers that have completed the day long training events. The reviews will allow team members and producers to review farm practices through the lens of the Produce Safety Rule. Growers will find the on-farm reviews particularly useful as the sessions will help them better understand how to translate the new rules on their farm.
The On Farm Readiness Reviews are free of charge and are done on a voluntary basis and take less than two hours to complete.
“Each of the first set of ten trainings was offered in a different part of the state, and the participation of Iowa’s commercial produce growers has shown their commitment to learning about the Produce Safety Rule,” said Joe Hannan, commercial horticulture specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach. “The state’s produce growers want to provide customers with not only fresh, delicious fruits and vegetables, but just as importantly safe and wholesome produce.”
Information about upcoming classroom training and how to register for an on-farm review, as well as other pertinent information about the rule, can be found at https://www.safeproduce.cals.iastate.edu/fda-produce-safety-rule.
Growers can also make inquires to IowaFSMA@iastate.edu or 515-294-6773. They can also contact State Horticulturist Paul Ovrom at email@example.com or 515-242-6239 or Hannan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-993-4281.