New training, procedures set for produce growers

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) — Under legislation passed by the Kentucky General Assembly earlier this year, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture will begin implementing new produce safety rules.

The new law eliminates the need for federal inspection of our produce farms and places oversight under KDA field representatives who work in cooperation with the University of Kentucky (UK) and the Kentucky Food Safety Branch.

“In short, producers will be working with Kentuckians who know them and know Kentucky agriculture,” said Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Ryan Quarles.

Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act, a law that tasked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with implementing new food safety protocols aimed at increasing food safety across the nation. States are able to enter into a cooperative agreement with the federal government to implement the rule.

“There are certain activities the states can do better than the federal government, and I think this is a perfect example of how states can step up to plate,” Quarles said. “We are committed to fulfilling the intent of the law and working with our producers in a collaborative way.”

The new rules require fruit and vegetable growers averaging $25,000 or above in annual sales during the previous three years, adjusted for inflation, to complete a farm survey with the KDA and a seven-hour Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Grower Training course.

With in-person produce safety training in Kentucky delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, free virtual training hosted by the KDA and UK will be offered online in June and July.

Four day-long grower training courses will be offered via the Zoom online platform from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EDT on June 9 and 16, and July 16 and 30. The deadline to register online is one month before each course, or Saturday, May 9 for the June 9 course.

To register for a course, contact the UK’s Food Systems Innovation Center at (859) 257-1546. Each course is limited to the first 20 registrants on a first-come, first-serve basis. Those registering must have a computer with a microphone and speaker, internet access, and valid email identification, and be present through all seven hours of instruction.

Previous completion of the Kentucky Produce Best Practices Training (PBPT) cannot be used as a substitute for the PSA grower training, however the PSA training can be used in lieu of the PBPT training for farmers’ market sampling certificates.

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