Which farms are covered (must comply with) by the full Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule?
Your farm is covered if you have, on average over a three year rolling period:
At least $25,000 of annual produce sales; and either
- More than $500,000 of annual food sales or
- More than half of your food sales are wholesale
However some farms selling on average more than $25,000 in produce annually and not more than $500,000 in food (food is defined by the FDA as “articles used for food or drink for man or animal;
chewing gum; and articles used for components” of food) may be eligible for a qualified exemption. The criteria for the exemption are below.
Why is my farm ‘Exempt’ from the Produce Safety rule?
The ‘Exempt’ status is largely determined by the quantity of produce a farm sells (in annual dollars averaged over the three previous years, adjusted for inflation based on 2011 dollars), the type of produce grown and sold, and if the produce is sold to a commercial processor. The following are circumstances that result in a farm being ‘Exempt’:
Micro Exempt – These farms on average (in the previous three years) sell less than a base level in produce (for 2017 that value was under $26,632).
Rarely-consumed-raw Exempt – These farms grow and sell only produce commodities that are rarely consumed raw and therefore pose a very low risk to consumers. A potato farm is a good example.
Processed Exempt – These farms grow and sell only produce that will “receive commercial processing that adequately reduces the presence of microorganisms of public health significance.” Examples would be farms that only sell produce to a canning facility.
What is a “Qualified Exemption” and what does it mean?
The Qualified Exemption is a Produce Safety Rule provision which allows very small to small-size farms to operate under certain modified requirements of the rule. Qualified Exempt farms are only required to annually verify their eligibility, and follow some labeling requirements. Keep in mind, even if your farm meets the requirements to claim a qualified exemption you are still responsible for producing safe food. A farm is eligible for a qualified exemption and the associated modified requirements in a calendar year if:
During the previous 3-year period the majority of your average food sales were directly to qualified end-users, AND
During the previous 3-year period your average annual sales for all food sold was less than $500,000 (adjusted for inflation based on 2011 dollars). The inflation adjusted value is updated annually by FDA and posted as FSMA Inflation Adjusted Cut Offs.
For information on the definition or a “qualified end user” and the modified requirements for Qualified Exempt Farms visit the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protections Safe Wisconsin Produce website.
If you are uncertain how your farm will be classified under this rule, you can use this self-guided “Am I Covered?” determination tool. This short survey will take less than five minutes, and can help determine if your farm is covered and when compliance begins. If you prefer an offline tool, use the flowchart on the “Is my farm covered by the new federal produce safety rules?” brochure.