Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”
The NCDA&CS recently received a grant from the Food and Drug Administration to enhance produce safety. The department’s Food and Drug Protection Division received a five-year, $5.3 million grant from FDA. The funding will be used to ensure that North Carolina farmers and producers are ready to comply with the stricter production and harvest requirements of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act.
This funding will help the department support farmers and producers get ready to meet these new requirements. Commissioner Troxler is a believer in educating before regulating, and this funding will support training opportunities, on-farm readiness reviews, and other education and outreach opportunities. This funding allows the department to develop its inspection programs to meet the specific growing and harvesting needs of N.C. farmers.
The funding will also support the development of infrastructure at agricultural research stations across the state for training and outreach. Funds will help upgrade classrooms and provide hands-on indoor and outdoor demonstration areas.
The goal is to provide training in best practices, from planting to post-harvest. These include demonstrations of growing, harvesting, packing and holding produce.
The department will also partner with N.C. State University for on-farm readiness reviews. These two-day reviews will utilize N.C. State’s produce specialists, as well as NCDA&CS staff, and provide direct feedback to farmers on produce safety implementation efforts.
FDA awarded a total of about $22 million to 42 states to help implement the federal produce safety rule. The rule, which the FDA finalized in November 2015, establishes science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption.
Click on the audio player below to listen to Commissioner Troxler and Rhonda talk about this produce safety effort.
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