In this issue:

Remote Produce Safety Grower Training

Open Space Discussion

Produce Safety Spotlight- Produce Contamination

FDA Temporary Policy

Share Grounds are Open!
Remote PSA Grower Training

On-farm food safety practices are vital in the produce industry. Many farms are now required to comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule. The Produce Safety Alliance created a grower training to educate growers on the Produce Safety Rule. Upon completion of this training, participants receive a certificate satisfying the requirement 112.22(c) in the Produce Safety Rule.
Who should attend:
Anyone who grows, harvests, packs and handles fresh fruits and vegetables.  Registration is limited to 20 participants.  Sign up soon to reserve your spot.
What is required to receive a certificate:
You must attend  both   days of the training. Additionally, you must have the following:
  • Internet access
  • Zoom Video Conferencing software*
  • Web camera
  • Microphone
When is the registration deadline:
Registration closes at 11:59 pm on August 2nd Training materials will be mailed to your residence. Registration closes 3 weeks before the training to accommodate ordering materials and mailing them to you.
*Once you receive the registration link, you will be prompted to download the  free  Zoom software. You do not have to create an account to participate.

**P articipant attendance and engagement will be monitored. Participants are only eligible for a PSA/AFDO Certificate of Course Completion if they are present for all modules of the course**
Local Foods Open Space Discussion

Monday, July 20 at 2:30 pm

As we march through summer, many farms are starting to think about fall time activities and events including corn mazes, pumpkin patches, hay rides and more. Please join us for our next Local Foods Open Space Discussion on Monday, 7/20 at 2:30 pm during which we will discuss how farms can plan and prepare to operate safely for these activities and events amidst COVID-19. Jeff Jackson with the Arkansas Department of Health and Ruth Pepler with Dogwood Hills Guest Farm will present on guidance, restrictions and safety measures being put into practice. Registration is free!

These discussions are recorded and will be available for viewing after the meeting date. Click here to view previous discussion. If you have any questions or suggestions for future topics, please contact Rip Weaver at

Produce Safety Spotlight

Produce Contamination: How does it happen and how can it be prevented?

People and animals present on the farm can carry, introduce and spread microbial pathogens to fresh produce. The presence of these pathogens on fresh fruits and vegetables can lead to human illnesses, especially when these foods are consumed raw.

6 common routes of microbial contamination:
1 - Feces. Fecal contamination occurs when animals defecate in the produce field, if workers' hands are not washed after using the toilet or if there is a sewage system leak. Bacteria (toxigenic E. coli , Salmonella , Listeria monocytogenes ), viruses (Norovirus, Hepatitis A) and parasites ( Giardia lamblia ) can all be present in feces.

2 - Hand Sanitation. Pathogens can be spread by workers if they don't wash their hands after using the toilet, eating, smoking, sneezing, or handling animals before handling produce.

3 - Clothing and Footwear. Produce can be contaminated by workers’ clothing, especially if the workers have come into contact with animals. If you have a diversified farm, working in the produce field before working with the animals and/or having separate shoes for working with the animals will help lower the risk of contamination.

4 - Tools and Equipment. Tools, such as harvest equipment, can cross-contaminate produce when not properly washed and sanitized. In addition to cleaning and sanitizing tools regularly, having a designated set of tools for produce and a different designated set for animals is best practice.

5 - Illness and Injuries. Any workers’ bodily fluids, such as blood, can be a serious transmission vector of pathogens. Ill workers should never handle produce.

6 - Water. Agricultural water, such as irrigation water and wash water, can carry pathogens. Water contamination is highly risky since it can contaminate the whole crop. Using drip irrigation helps reduce that risk. If you are using well water or surface water (like ponds), be sure to have the water tested for microbial contamination.
Temporary Policy Regarding Qualified Exemptions from the FSMA Produce Safety Rule

Due to COVID-19 disrupting the food supply chain, FDA announced temporary flexibility in the eligibility criteria for the qualified exemption status from the FSMA Produce Safety Rule. Under normal circumstances, a farm is eligible for a qualified exemption if their average (over the past 3 years) annual monetary value of food sales is less than $500,000 (adjusted for inflation), AND the majority of the sales were to qualified end-users. Qualified end-users are the consumers of the food, restaurants and direct to retail food establishments (selling to a grocery store, not to a warehouse or distributor) located in the same state as the farm or within 275 miles.

Since many farms have had to shift food sales to available buyers during this time, FDA is not enforcing the criteria for sales to qualified end-users when determining eligibility for the qualified exemption for the duration of the public health crisis. Once the public health crisis ends, FDA will issue guidance on how to calculate the three year averages.

This means that if a farm is eligible for a qualified exemption in 2020 (based off averages from 2017, 2018, and 2019), they will still be considered qualified exempt even if their 2020 sales shift to primarily wholesale markets (not qualified end-users).

W e're O pen!

Calling all Arkansas food entrepreneurs, farmers, growers and those interested in starting your own food business! The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service has launched its certified kitchens and distribution centers – the Share Grounds – at three locations around the state, including Marshall, McCrory and Rison. These kitchens will become food hubs where you can develop recipes with expert guidance, create a business plan to sell the product and start your own local food business. Site managers are providing client consultations virtually at this time, so please reach out to one today. For more information, visit the Share Grounds website or e-mail Angela Gardner at
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