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Hawaii to receive $1.9 million to help farmers with food safety regulations

Staff Writer |
The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) has entered into a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help Hawaii food producers comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.

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Under the agreement, the FDA will release a total of $1.9 million over the next three years to HDOA to establish and administer a produce safety program.

The funds will be used mainly to assess the state’s produce crops and inventory, establish a farm inspection protocol, formulate a multi-year plan to implement the produce safety system, and develop and provide education, outreach and technical assistance to farms regarding the federal rules.

“This newly funded program will be especially helpful to Hawaii’s smaller farms by providing guidance and technical assistance so they may comply with the new federal food safety regulations,” said Gov. David Ige. “Supporting farmers in this way will strengthen our food systems and help attain our goal of doubling Hawaii’s food production by 2020.”

“Compliance with the Produce Safety Rule is mandatory for produce growers,” said Scott Enright, chairperson of the Hawaii Board of Agriculture. “We realize that some farmers may need assistance in understanding the new requirements and what they must do to meet the nationwide standards and the new program will be a good resource.”

The cooperative agreement with Hawaii is one of three the FDA announced in July – the other states are Kentucky and Mississippi – bringing the total number of partner states to 46, plus American Samoa, raising nationwide federal funding to $32.5 million.

The FSMA compliance date for larger produce farms (average annual revenue more than $500,000) has been in effect since January 2018 with rules for small farms ($250,000 – $500,000) phasing in in January 2019. The compliance date for very small farms ($25,000 – $250,000) is January 2020.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 48 million Americans get sick from a foodborne illness each year, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that foodborne illnesses cost more than $15.6 billion each year.


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