( FDA )

To help implement the Produce Safety Rule, the Food and Drug Administration has announced new cooperative agreements with Hawaii, Kentucky, Mississippi and American Samoa.

The agency also has renewed agreements with 43 other states, according to a news release.
The FDA said this is the third year of the State Produce Implementation Cooperative Agreement Program. According to the agency, states are being provided with the resources to:

  • Formulate and implement produce safety systems;
  • Develop and provide education, outreach and technical assistance;
  • Deliver produce safety training; 
  • Recruit personnel; and 
  • Develop inventories of farms covered by the Produce Safety Rule to target outreach, education and inspection activities.

The release said funding can also be used by states to support the On-Farm Readiness Review program, a voluntary program to help farmers learn about the Produce Safety Rule and show if they are prepared to comply.

The FDA announced the first cooperative agreements with $21.8 million for 42 states in September 2016, according to the release. Second-year agreements awarded $30.9 million to 43 states in July 2017. 

In the most recent announcement, the FDA is announcing $32.5 million in funding for the 46 states and one territory, according to the release. The FDA reported that U.S. states that still do not have cooperative agreements are North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois and Wyoming.

The Produce Safety Rule, which the FDA finalized in November 2015, establishes science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption.

For large farming operations, the first major compliance date for produce (other than sprouts) was Jan. 26 this year. Routine inspections to assess compliance with the Produce Safety Rule for produce other than sprouts will not begin until 2019, according to the release.