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On-Farm Readiness Reviews - Illinois

The On-Farm Readiness Review (OFRR) is a voluntary assessment used to familiarize Illinois farmers with the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.  This program provides an opportunity for farmers to discuss areas of their operation and will assist growers recognize areas for improvement.  The program in Illinois is being offered, free of charge, to any farmer that has completed or plans to attend a Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training workshop (or equivalent) https://producesafetyalliance.cornell.edu/training/grower-training-courses/

The Produce Safety Rule became effective on January 26, 2016.  The initial compliance dates are: January 26, 2018 for large farms; January 28, 2019 for small farms; and January 27, 2020 for very small farms.  FDA farm inspections will begin with the large farms in Spring 2019.  In Illinois, the Food and Drug Administration will be responsible for farm inspections under the FSMA Produce Safety Rule.  To understand what this means, you need to become familiar with the differences between a third-party audit and a FDA inspection:

               Third-Party Market Access Audit:

·        Third party market access audits are generally audits conducted to assess whether or not a producer meets the food safety requirements of a specific buyer(s).  These requirements can be above and beyond what is required by the FSMA Produce Safety Rule.  

·        Many audits are points based, meaning the farm either passes/fails depending on the number of points received during the farm inspection by the third-party auditor; some audits are based on a farm-specific risk assessment

·        Audits are voluntary, upon request of the farmer and are usually done annually

·        The audit “scope” is determined by the farmer and can be limited to specific crops or specific parts of the operation

·        The consequences of failure to pass an audit are potential loss of sales/markets

FDA Inspections:

·        Are mandated by Federal Regulation

·        Are not point-based

·        Inspections are intermittent

·        An inspection covers the whole farm, not just specific crop(s)

·        Non-compliance with the Produce Safety Rule may be followed by enforcement actions.

While some farms may be familiar with the Produce Safety Rule and how it impacts their farm, others may be less familiar. The On-Farm Readiness Review provides an opportunity for farmers, at any level of preparedness, to get individual feedback on their readiness for compliance with the Produce Safety Rule before they receive their first inspection. This tool is consistent with FDA’s “Educate Before and While We Regulate” approach.  On-farm reviews will cover farm practices that may include growing, harvesting, and postharvest activities on the farm.  FDA farm inspections will begin in 2019.

Farmers who have interest in having an OFRR of their farm should contact the Food and Drug Administration at RequestAnOFRR@fda.hhs.gov or by mail: 

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

c/o Produce Safety Network

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

Fresh Produce Safety Branch (HFS 317)

5001 Campus Drive

College Park, MD   20740

Or by contacting Laurie George at ljgeorge@illinois.edu  or calling (618) 242-0780.

Additional information concerning the Produce Safety Rule and OFRR can be found at:

https://www.ncrfsma.org/

https://www.farmcrediteast.com/knowledge-exchange/Blog/todays-harvest/fsma-update---wall

Local Contact: Laurie George, Extension Educator, Local Food Systems and Small Farms, ljgeorge@illinois.edu