For Immediate Release: Aug. 25, 2021
Contact: Cristy Dice Cristy.L.Dice@colostate.edu 970.491.2942
The Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association (CFVGA) is encouraging all Colorado produce growers who grow, harvest, pack or hold produce that is consumed raw to take advantage of an educational opportunity offered by Colorado State University (CSU) Extension by signing up for an on-farm readiness review (OFRR). It is important that the review be conducted during the production and harvest season. OFRRs are offered free of charge to help farms improve their food safety practices. For those subject to the Produce Safety Rule under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the OFRR will help the farm prepare for inspections by the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA).
FSMA was passed in 2011 and went into effect in 2016. Since that time, CFVGA has worked with CSU Extension and CDA to educate produce farmers on the new rule and assist them to implement best practices. The group has offered multiple classes and webinars on produce safety and FSMA.
“CFVGA supported legislation to grant Produce Safety Rule program oversight to CDA within the state of Colorado. Now, CFVGA, CSU and CDA are working together to help growers improve their food safety and prepare for inspections, which started in 2019,” said Glenn Hirakata, CFVGA Food Safety Committee Chair. “The OFRRs are non-regulatory, confidential visits to assess a farm’s readiness for compliance with FSMA. Farmers will have the opportunity to discuss their food safety practices and how those practices align with the rules.”
The OFRR generally takes two to four hours, depending on the size of the operation and/or the questions the grower has. The OFRRs are free of charge, voluntary, and confidential. The farmer participating in the review or a designated employee must have attended the Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training. OFRRs are provided by CSU Extension and may also include a CDA representative. The OFRR is not a U.S. Department of Agriculture GAP audit, nor does it prepare a farm for any type of third-party audit. More information is available here: http://www.coproducesafety.org/on-farm-readiness-review/.
“For farms that have to comply with the Produce Safety Rule, this visit will help them prepare for their CDA inspection. And for those farms that are exempt from the rule, it will help them improve their food safety practices in general,” said Dice. “Farmers who have participated in a visit have told us that the visits helped identify risks they had not considered and the discussions and resources we provide helped them easily make improvements.”
The CFVGA is comprised of more than 250 members, including growers of all sizes and types of production throughout the state, as well as representatives of allied industries. The Colorado fruit and vegetable growing sector contributes nearly $485 million to Colorado at the farm gate and is multiplied as it goes through the distribution chain. Over 90,000 Colorado acres are in fruit and vegetable production.