The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) will begin produce safety inspections on farms grossing over $250,000 in total annual food sales on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. Inspections of farms grossing over $500,000 in annual food sales began in early 2019 as part of the inspection phase-in process. These inspections are covered by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR).
“Farm inspections are new to many produce farmers in Michigan, and the initial round of inspections will focus on education and compliance assistance,” said MDARD Director Gary McDowell. “Most farms already take precautions to make sure the food they produce is safe. These inspections will concentrate on the requirements under the federal PSR, including record-keeping, documenting food safety plans and procedures on our farms.”
Prior to an inspection, MDARD staff will call to schedule the best time to visit the farms to observe the growing, harvesting, packing and holding activities covered by the PSR. They will also discuss the scope of the inspection, required records for review, flow of the inspection, meeting point and point of contact, and give farmers an opportunity to ask questions and communicate any required biosecurity measures in place on the farm.
This initial inspection will focus on helping produce farms understand and comply with PSR requirements. When arriving on farm, inspectors will introduce themselves and provide identification. Records review generally happens first to familiarize staff and then all buildings and equipment used for the growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce will be inspected. At least one field will be observed for growing, harvesting and field packing activities including worker behavior, animal intrusion, soil amendments and equipment use, etc.
Typically, produce observed during the inspection will be followed from growing and harvesting to packing and holding. The order in which that process is observed is dependent upon weather conditions for the day and harvest schedules. Travel to and from field(s) will be coordinated at the time of the inspection. Discussion, questions, and comments are encouraged to facilitate an inclusive and educational process.
For a visual of what to expect during an inspection, videos titled “Produce Safety Inspection for Farm Owners” and “Produce Safety Inspection for Farm Workers” are available in both English and Spanish at www.michigan.gov/producesafety.