The Michigan On-Farm Produce Safety program is designed to assist the state’s produce growers to comply with the Produce Safety Rule of the Food Safety Modernization Act. According to produce safety technician, Emily Hale, going through this program builds confidence and is an asset to their marketing.
“It helps them feel confident that they’re doing the right things on their farms, but it also has a marketing aspect which allows them to gain access to a market they currently didn’t have if a buyer required some sort of food safety certification,” said Hale.
There are three ways for farmers to receive assistance. The first is through produce safety technicians, who Hale says works one-on-one with growers to identify ways they might not be following the rule.
“They can go through a product safety risk assessment, and that’s a process that helps them set a baseline of food safety for their farm, comply with certain parts of the rule,” said Hale. “If they complete the process with a technician, they get a certificate from MDARD and that they’re meeting that minimum standard.”
The second is the through on-farm readiness reviews, which is a mock inspection. A team from MSU extension and produce safety technicians will come to your operation.
“We will look and see if you’re currently complying with the rule and give suggestions if you’re not,” said Hale.
The final option for farmers to receive assistance is through Produce safety alliance courses, which are taught during winter. They’re held regionally throughout the state.
“In that class, we cover all the components and requirements of the rule,” said Hale. We talk about developing a food safety plan specific to your farm.”
Based on the feedback, Hale said the program is being well-received by Michigan’s produce growers.
“Lots of people [are] reaching out to technicians because this helps right now, and it’s currently free, voluntary, and confidential,” said Hale.