The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 passed the first ever federal law on produce safety in 2015 - the Produce Safety Rule! The science-based rule provides guidelines to fresh produce growers to prevent foodborne illnesses. Before the Produce Safety Rule (PSR), voluntary programs, such as Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), provided guidelines for produce growers to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses. Now, food safety is NO LONGER OPTIONAL - something we will all benefit from.
Produce Safety Technicians
The state of Michigan is preparing its farmers for upcoming Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule inspections, beginning in January of 2019. Grant funding from the Michigan Department of Rural and Agricultural Development (MDARD) allows the hire of up to six Produce Safety Technicians throughout the Mitten State, including one in the Upper Peninsula. The technicians, hired by local county conservation districts, serve to educate and assist farmers in understanding and complying to the Produce Safety Rule (PSR). Inspections for the compliance of the PSR will begin with the largest Michigan farms by Produce Safety Inspectors, and trickle down to smaller farms.
With the help of a Produce Safety Technician, a farm can:
Determine whether it is covered or exempt under the PSR.
Identify areas of risk through completions of a risk assessment.
Consider solutions to non-compliant farm activities and possible risk reductions for agricultural practices before, during, and after harvesting of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Perform an on-farm readiness review to gauge progress to PSR compliance.
Complete a written food safety plan.
Receive technical support or referrals for technical support in the farm’s region.
Farmers may choose to utilize the technicians as much or as little as they see fit; the services of a Produce Safety Technician are completely confidential, voluntary, and free to farmers. It is also important to note that the role of technicians is educational; it is not equal to the regulatory role of the inspectors.
Meet Your Local Technician
As of May 2018, the Marquette County Conservation District hired Landen Tetil, the U.P.’s only Produce Safety Technician. The 2013 Northern Michigan University B.S. graduate has been active in agriculture since her first farm job in 2007. In total, she brings to the produce safety table five years of experience in mid-scale commercial cropping and an additional six years of experience in small-scale diversified farming, primarily in vegetables and poultry. In 2015, she became trained in Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices (GAP/GHP), a voluntary food safety national program. Her practical experience combined with training received through the produce safety program makes her a valuable resource to U.P. farmers seeking compliance to the rule. Landen’s primary service area includes: Iron, Baraga, Dickinson, Delta, Marquette, Alger, Menominee, and Schoolcraft counties, but will assist any farmer in the Upper Peninsula, as needed. Landen Tetil Produce Safety Technician Marquette County Conservation District 780 Commerce Drive, Suite C Marquette, MI 49855 (906) 226 – 8871 x 105 Landen.firstname.lastname@example.org