Michigan is no stranger to required government audits. The state’s Department of Agriculture has been under extreme pressure to cut the budget in recent years, and as a result growers and packers haven’t always been able to find auditors to take care of required audits.
Talbert Nething, general manager of Byron Center, Mich.-based Hearty Fresh, said it can be challenging to secure government inspections to qualify the company for things like government bids and export sales.
“That does seem to be an issue because of the lack of employees at the state level, and I think that will continue to be an issue,” Nething said.
Byron Center, Mich.-based Hearty Fresh recently went through an ASI audit and scored above 98%, said Talbert Nething, general manager.
Hudsonville-based Crispheart Produce, a celery grower and distributor of a full line of Michigan vegetables, is doing what it can to keep up with new food safety and traceability requirements.
“We do what we have to do on the farm and on the trucks for traceback,” said Gene Talsma, president. “We get audited every year, and do what’s required or what we need to do for safety.”
Jerry Van Solkema, owner of Van Solkema Produce, Byron Center, said audit requirements are changing, which will cost the company more money.
“I believe that if we have to comply with certifications that all producers that provide products to farmers markets and roadside stands should comply also,” Van Solkema said.
To get the company’s blueberry growers across the nation on the same page about food safety requirements, Grand Junction-based MBG Marketing has hosted several industrywide training and educational programs, said Larry Ensfield, vice president of operations.
“The recent food safety act will put additional responsibilities on growers, packers and processors,” Ensfield said.