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Produce Safety Support for Local Farms

At ValleyHUB, we are working to make sure our farmer partners are connected to the resources they need to ensure our bountiful local produce is safe as well as delicious.

Produce Safety Support for Local Farms
FIC Farm Manager Ben Bylsma demonstrates safe harvesting practices at the 2024 ValleyHUB Annual Meeting

We all want the food we grow, buy, sell, prepare, and eat to be free from contaminants that could make us or those who eat our food sick. But understanding food safety regulations and certifications can be complicated! At ValleyHUB, we are working to make sure our farmer partners are connected to the resources they need to ensure our bountiful local produce is safe as well as delicious.

Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule

 The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law in 2011, directed the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to develop controls to prevent food contamination that could lead to illness. As a part of implementing this mandate, the FDA developed the Produce Safety Rule (PSR). The final Produce Safety Rule was issued in 2015, with staggered compliance dates for different provisions of the PSR and different farms based on scale. 

The PSR covers growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce for human consumption, with standards for worker health, hygiene, and training; agricultural water quality and testing; soil amendments such as compost and manure; animals in produce production areas; sanitation of tools, equipment, and buildings; and sprout production. 

How can you tell if your farming practices align with the Produce Safety Rule?

A good first step is to see if your produce is covered under the Produce Safety Rule by using this Coverages and Exclusions/Exemptions Flowchart. This will tell you whether you are exempt from compliance. But even if your farm isn’t covered (because, for example, you are a beginning farmer and your annual sales aren’t yet high enough to qualify your farm for coverage), you will want to be familiar with PSR requirements so that you and your customers can be assured that you are utilizing best practices in food safety.

Attending a Produce Safety Alliance Grower training course will satisfy the training requirement of the PSR and provide a foundational understanding of the rule. But even if you understand the requirements of the PSR, figuring out how those requirements apply to your farm can feel overwhelming! This is where Michigan Conservation District Produce Safety Technicians can help. Produce Safety Technicians provide free, confidential, and individualized support for farmers. They can help you with your food safety plan, work with you to troubleshoot areas of food safety concern, and walk you through the Michigan Produce Safety Risk Assessment (PSRA) process. Completing a Produce Safety Risk Assessment (PSRA) is a great way to ensure that your farm is in compliance with the Produce Safety Rule, plus you’ll get a certificate that you can share with your customers to assure them that your farm is following best practices in food safety. You can find the Produce Safety Technician assigned to your region and contact them for a farm visit through this webpage: Contact a Produce Safety Technician.

Food Safety Drop-in Hours 

Stop by the Food Innovation Center or join us virtually to get help writing or revising your farm’s food safety plan during our food safety drop-in hours on Friday, March 22 from 1pm-4pm and Friday, March 29 from 9am-noon. ValleyHUB staff and Produce Safety Technician Patrick Gordon will be available to answer your questions and help you draft your food safety plan, including helping you figure out what food safety records you need to keep and how to do that most efficiently in the context of your farm. 

No registration is required to drop by in person. If you’d like to join us virtually, email Amy Buskirk at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to receive the Zoom link.

March 08, 2024
By: Amy Buskirk, Food Systems Education Program Manager

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