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NMSU Extension to host USDA-approved produce safety rule training

ALBUQUERQUE – If you grow, pack, process or sell fresh produce, the new federal produce safety rule may apply to you.


The produce safety rule is part of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act that establishes science-based minimum standards for safe production and harvesting of fresh fruit and vegetables. These rules were added to FSMA in November 2015. Growers are to be in compliance with these guidelines beginning in 2018.

New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service is taking the initiative to help vegetable and fruit growers operate within these rules by providing training.

Extension agents are preparing for this task by attending a two-day Produce Safety Alliance integrated growers and train-the-trainer course Oct. 17-18 at the Sheraton Airport Hotel in Albuquerque.

The Southwest Border Food Protection & Emergency Preparedness Center is hosting the event. The center is a joint project of NMSU’s extension service and the New Mexico Department of Agriculture.

“We are trying to gear up so our extension agents can give growers, whose operation falls within this new regulation, the tools they need to be successful with their agricultural products,” said Tom Dean, co-director of the center and NMSU Extension Southwest District Director.

This training is the second such training in the nation of the Produce Safety Alliance certified curriculum. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have tasked PSA with developing the curriculum and administering the training.

Monday’s course will be for the grower certification. The federal regulations require at least one supervisor or responsible party for a farm to have successfully completed the grower certification.

It also requires all farm employees to be trained in the seven modules of the PSA curriculum that include introduction to produce safety; worker health, hygiene and training; soil amendments; wildlife, domesticated animals and land use; agricultural water for production use and post-harvest use; and how to develop a farm food safety plan.

In addition to learning about produce safety best practices, key parts of the FSMA Produce Safety Rule requirements are outlined within each module.

Stephanie Walker, NMSU Extension vegetable specialist, and Nancy Flores, NMSU Extension food technology specialist, will coordinate the grower training.

Tuesday’s course will focus on teaching the trainer part of the PSA curriculum.

“We are being proactive about this training,” Dean said. “We know many of our growers will need certificates, so we are working to get our county extension agents trained as trainers so they can teach the growers in their area.”

Space is limited for this training because of the way the course work is designed, so growers need to contact Dean at 575-646-5819 or tdean@nmsu.edu to register.

Total costs to attend the training will vary. Costs include registration fee, training material and cost of certificates. To attend the grower certificate training only on Monday, Oct. 17, the fee is $135. To earn the train-the-trainer certification by attending both days the fee is $200. To earn both certifications by attending both days, the fee is $225.