September 13, 2016
With FDA’s new food safety rules finalized and compliance clocks ticking, one of most common questions we hear is: who is going to be enforcing these new rules on farms, and how? While many of the details surrounding how exactly the rules will be implemented remain uncertain, last week FDA took a step toward answering the who question by awarding $21.8 million to states that submitted proposals to develop Produce Rule implementation plans.
These questions arise because the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) directs FDA to work with the states in implementing FSMA as part of a National Integrated Food Safety System. FDA has been very public that, particularly regarding the Produce Safety Rule, it views state departments of agriculture as the primary agencies that will be interacting with covered farms. To this end, FDA entered into a cooperative agreement with the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture in order to assess each state’s authority to implement these new rules, and to develop an implementation framework for the states to rely upon.
Now, FDA is entering into cooperative agreements with individual states to develop and carry out plans for Produce Rule implementation. Not all states submitted proposals to develop their own Produce Rule implementation programs; of the states that did submit proposals, not all were from departments of agriculture – some were from health departments. You can see which states received funding here.
The majority of states received funding under what’s called “Competition A/B,” which provides funding for the awardee to invest in infrastructure, education, technical assistance, an inventory of affected farms, and an inspection, compliance and enforcement program. A small number of states received funding focused solely on infrastructure, education, technical assistance, and the farm inventory (“Competition A”), which signals that in those states (FL, OR, ID, IA, and NH), FDA is likely to be the enforcement authority. Seven states did not receive funding under either Competition A or A/B; it remains unclear how Produce Rule implementation will proceed in those states (ND, SD, WY, IL, MO, KY, MS).
Approaches to developing and implementing Produce Rule programs are likely to vary somewhat from state to state. However, each awardee is expected to use their funds toward the following goals of the cooperative agreement, as applies to their A or A/B status:
The first compliance date for the largest covered farms (those with $500,000+ in annual produce sales) is January, 2018.
NSAC continues to advocate for a participatory and transparent approach to FSMA implementation, and hopes that – with this additional support to carry out implementation activities – state agencies that received awards will extensively engage with state-level stakeholders, particularly including the full diversity of farm organizations, in the development of their implementation plans.