Growers and FSMA: What’s The Impact?

Sprague provides pest management services in some of the most well-recognized and economically important agriculture regions in the world.

From Oregon’s Willamette Valley to California’s Central Valley, our commercial pest experts partner with food processors, packers, transporters and growers to design and implement pest management programs that protect the millions of dollars’ worth of produce and food products from harmful pests.

The first major compliance date for the Produce Safety Rule under FSMA took place in January 2018. Large farms have to comply with the established science-based standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables.

Key requirements under the Produce Safety Rule include provisions for water quality and testing, biological soil amendments, sprouts, wild and domesticated animals, worker training on health and hygiene, and maintenance and cleaning of equipment and tools.

What do growers need to be mindful of as they work to comply with the pest management elements of FSMA mandates? 

At the top of the list is addressing conducive conditions that promote pest harborage and activity, especially sections that provide pests’ access to areas of their operation where food products are stored, processed or shipped from.

This can include an array of structural, cultural and sanitation conditions from installing door sweeps and screening to deep cleaning of equipment and sanitation protocols to employee training. 

Growing operations are threatened by an array of pests including rodents, nuisance wildlife, flying insects, stored product pests and birds. And birds are the pest that both FDA inspectors and third-party auditors are paying much closer attention to.

With recent research studies establishing a link to bacterial infections in humans caused by exposure to bird droppings, inspectors and auditors are placing more emphasis on the bird threat in and around growing and other agriculture-related facilities.

Bacteria, including listeria and salmonella, which are commonly found in bird droppings can be introduced into areas of operations in a variety of ways. This includes on the soles of shoes, from birds nesting on exposed structural beams or from droppings on produce left in the open waiting to be loaded or unloaded.

Growers, packers, millers and processors need to work with their pest service provider to review their current pest management programs and make any necessary changes to ensure they meet the new mandates and keep their operations audit-ready. 

While routine inspections under the Produce Safety Rule will not begin until the spring of 2019, these guidelines are being provided to give both growers and regulators more guidance, training, technical assistance, and planning and ensure that they have the tools they need, according to the U.S. FDA. 

The compliance dates for growers will be staggered over a three year time frame (based on farm size) with small and very small farming operations having to comply by 2019 and 2020, respectively.


Agriculture, Food Processing & Manufacturing