A message from Ginger Nickerson, UVM-Extension's GAPs Outreach Coordinator: This is good news as it is taking quite a bit of time for everyone involved in the produce industry to wrap their heads around what the proposed regulations will mean. ALL farmers are urged to familiarize themselves with the Act and comment on it. Pooh Sprague of NHVBGA, along with other regional farmer organizations, have a nice website for farmers to wrap their heads around what the proposed regs will mean for farms in the Northeast.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Council (NSAC) also has a new FSMA website here.
Some of the issues that seem to rise to the top in terms of impacts on New England farms are:
- A proposed 9 month interval between the application of raw manure (this would include grazing/pasturing) and harvest
- Irrigation water from surface water – irrigation water from rivers and lakes must be tested every 7 days, water from protected springs and ponds should be tested at least once a month during the growing season
- Processing/rinse water- there can be no E.coli in water that comes in direct contact with covered produce during or after harvest activities (includes cooling). This means monitoring temperature, using an EPA registered antimicrobial and monitoring the disinfectant and pH for efficacy.
- Cost of infrastructure improvements to make packsheds and equipment cleanable, may be substantial for farms with older structures & equipment
For more information on these issues, The FDA adds new factsheets regularly.
To read the actual proposed rules click here.
Question and Answer Sessions with the FDA on specific portions of FSMA are available on the Produce Safety Alliance website. (These are audio recordings- maybe something to listen to in the greenhouse.)
While farm advocacy organizations will be submitting comments, it is important for the FDA and our congressional representatives to hear from individual farmers on the rules!