By Chelsea Matzen,  FSMA Project Director 

On July 12, 2018, the FDA announced that it is expanding the State Produce Implementation Cooperative Agreement Program for the upcoming fiscal year, bringing the total number of states receiving funding to 46, plus one territory. Added states and territory include: American Samoa, Hawaii, Kentucky, and Mississippi.

Also known as State CAP, the program started in 2016 with $21.8 million in funding provided to 42 participating states. The main goal of funding is to assist states with resources to provide education, outreach, and technical assistance to farmers covered by the FSMA Produce Safety Rule. Additionally, states will use funding to begin implementation and enforcement of the Produce Safety Rule. FDA is committed to educating before and while regulating and this funding to states and territories is part of their commitment to ensuring the resources are there for proper education and outreach prior to implementation and enforcement. This recent expansion increases funding to $32.5 million for states to provide a variety of assistance to farms.

Funding will be used by the states to recruit and train state employees on FSMA and the Produce Safety Rule, provide subsidized training to farmers, develop educational materials, and conduct On-Farm Readiness Reviews (OFRR). OFRRs are a voluntary program developed by the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) to allow farmers to learn about the Produce Safety Rule and determine their level of preparedness for the requirements. An OFRR will be performed by both a state regulatory official and someone from Extension in most cases. They will walk through a farmer’s operation providing feedback that is entirely confidential. No notes from an OFRR will leave that farm. OFRRs are a great way for farmers to assess their readiness for FSMA compliance.

Another activity that states are using funds for is the development of a produce farm inventory. States are working to gather a list of farms covered by the Produce Safety Rule so they can target outreach, education, and inspection activities to those that need it most. Growers who share their information with states will have better access to training and education but also will be on their state’s radar when enforcement and inspection time rolls around.

The only organizations eligible to apply for State CAP funding were state and territory governments with actual or potential regulatory oversight and responsibility for implementing the Produce Safety Rule. These regulatory agencies have mostly been state departments of agriculture but have also included some departments of health.

While the FSMA Produce Safety Rule is a Federal regulation, it is designed to result in an increased level of cooperation between Federal, state, and territorial regulatory agencies. Entities that have received funding through State CAP will be responsible for FSMA enforcement and inspection. In those states that have not received funding: Illinois, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming, FDA will be responsible for FSMA enforcement and inspections.

Growers interested in learning more about education and training in their states can find many local resources on our resources page. There we have a map linking to state regulatory agency or Extension web pages on food safety and FSMA. If your state has not created their updated webpage yet feel free to reach out to us here at LFSC for further information.