Writer: Darrell J. Pehr, 575-646-3223, firstname.lastname@example.org
CLOVIS - Hay growers and buyers in New Mexico will be required to follow new hay transporting regulations that are coming down the road in December.
The production of hay is the third-largest agricultural activity in New Mexico, worth more than $125 million across the state each year. Principle hay-producing counties are Chaves, Eddy, Dona Ana, San Juan, Roosevelt, Curry and Lea.
In an effort to protect the nation's feed and food supply, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has included - as part of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 - regulations that affect the sale and transportation of hay and other agricultural products in the United States.
"In fact, no matter what the size of your commercial hay production operation, you will be required to keep more extensive records of your business activities relating to hay production," said Mark Marsalis, Extension agronomist for New Mexico State University's Agricultural Science Center at Clovis. "Transporters are not exempt and will be affected by these new regulations as well."
The FDA's bioterrorism recordkeeping regulations are designed to protect the food supply from threats that could be introduced during transportation of animal feed and to enable the FDA to trace contamination problems, if they arise, back to their source.
"Essentially, anyone who buys, sells, barters, gives away or ships hay from a farm to be used as a livestock feed, must keep extensive documentation on the source and recipient of the product," Marsalis said.
Animal feeds, including hay, are considered food by FDA definitions and will be regulated under the new rules. Other examples of "food" are raw and processed grain, rice and oilseeds, animal feed and premixes, feed ingredients, live food-producing animals, processed agricultural commodities and dietary supplements. Other feed manufacturers, grain elevators, alfalfa processors and entities that process or store farm products also are required to comply. This recordkeeping requirement is defined as a one-step-back and one-step-forward product-tracing documentation.
Non-transporter recipients must keep records on the immediate previous source(s) of the product (name, address, telephone number, fax number and e-mail address, if available). Also, records must reflect the type of food (including variety), date released, quantity, type of packaging and the immediate transporter (name, address, telephone number, fax number and e-mail address) of the product. Producers or manufacturers must keep similar records on the immediate recipient and transporter of their products.
"So, whether you are the source or the recipient, you must keep detailed records of where the product originated and who received the hay product," Marsalis said.
Transporters, defined as "persons who have possession, custody or control of an article of food in the U.S. for the sole purpose of transporting the food, whether by road, rail, water or air or foreign persons who transport food in the U.S.," must also maintain detailed records. These records must include a description of the freight, the immediate previous source and the immediate subsequent recipient, origin and destination points, date shipment was received and date released, quantity, route and transfer points through which the shipment moved.
If existing business records contain the required information, there is no need to create new records to meet the requirements, Marsalis said.
Farms are excluded from these regulations. The FDA defines farms as "facilities that manufacture, process, pack or store food, provided that all food used in such activities is grown, raised or consumed on that farm or another farm under the same ownership."
"In other words, those who grow hay for use exclusively on their own farms do not have to comply with the new changes if all of their hay stays on-farm," Marsalis said.
According to the FDA, large companies (500 or more employees) were required to begin establishing and maintaining records on covered activities that occurred on or after Dec. 9, 2005. Smaller companies (11 to 499 employees) were to begin compliance on June 9, 2006. Businesses with 10 or fewer employees will be required to comply with new recordkeeping regulations on Dec. 11, 2006. The requirements are not retroactive and apply only to covered activities that occur on or after the effective dates.
Records must be created when the hay is received, released or transported if the information is not contained in already existing records. Records for animal food, including hay, must be kept for at least one year for both transporters and non-transporters alike. Raw grains or oilseed records must be retained for two years from the date when the covered activity occurred. If the FDA suspects that any hay or other feed has been tampered with and is a serious health threat to humans or animals, any and all records to which the FDA has access by these regulations must be available for inspection within 24 hours from their request.
Failure to establish, maintain and present the required records (if requested) is a prohibited act and the federal government can bring civil or criminal action against individuals who do not comply.
More information on these regulations, exemptions and alternative methods for food transporters can be found online at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/fsbtac23.html.
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