The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced a new cooperative agreement with Mississippi in support of efforts to implement the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule, which establishes science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption.

The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation had the opportunity to assist the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce in lobbying for legislation to be passed in Mississippi during the 2018 Legislative session allowing state inspectors to conduct FDA’s FSMA Produce Safety Rule inspections.

“As a voice for Mississippi agriculture, the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation was happy to assist the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce in lobbying for the legislation allowing our state inspectors to carry out the Produce Safety Rule inspections,” Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation President Mike McCormick said. “I believe our members and farmers in general are more comfortable with this agreement than those proposed in the past.”

Mississippi’s cooperative agreements will be a key part of implementing a modern produce safety system and developing and providing education, outreach and technical assistance to farmers who sell or import their products in the U.S. For growers of covered produce other than sprouts, the first major compliance date for large farms was in January 2018, except for the agricultural water requirements that are being re-examined.

For the remainder of 2018, the FDA intends to support farmers through training and providing guidance on the rule’s requirements in collaboration with the states and other partners. Routine inspections under the Produce Safety Rule are scheduled to begin in 2019.