States looking for financial assistance to help them help farmers comply with FSMA’s Produce Safety Rule recently got some welcome news from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA announced that it was awarding $21.8 million to 42 states to help plan, establish and/or enhance produce safety programs. The 2016-17 grant amounts range from $1.02 million to California and $120,000 to Nebraska, with the rest falling somewhere in between. According to FDA, the funding amounts for each state were based on the estimated number of farms in the state that grow produce covered by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rule. States had to apply for the funds, which their departments of agriculture and health will use to:
- Assess their produce landscape.
- Establish a process to develop and maintain a produce farm inventory.
- Provide resources for, and invest in, their program’s infrastructure.
- Coordinate with other local, state, territory, and federal agencies for produce safety activities.
- Formulate a multi-year plan to implement a produce safety system.
- Develop a performance measurement system, plan, and/or process system to measure the progress towards the goals of this cooperative agreement.
- Evaluate produce legislative or regulatory authority.
- Develop and/or provide education, outreach, and technical assistance, prioritizing farming operations covered by the rule.
- Develop and/or provide education, outreach, and technical assistance to the jurisdictional produce safety regulators.
- Design and implement a compliance program for applicable produce safety regulations at the jurisdictional level.
FSMA, signed into law in January 2011, requires more cooperation between federal, state, and territorial regulatory and food safety produce entities. The grant funding is part of this cooperative agreement program. FDA plans to ask for more money to fund another grant cycle of FSMA compliance assistance to states. “We have been steadily building this system, and in our FY2017 budget request we have asked Congress for an additional $11.3 million in new budget authority to further support the development of state produce safety programs,” wrote Stephen Ostroff, M.D., the agency’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, in a Sept. 9 blog post. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)