RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) is launching the new Virginia Produce Safety Grower Portal, a free online portal to assist fruit and vegetable growers operating in the Commonwealth to meet the requirements of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA): Produce Safety Rule (21 CFR 112). The new online tool allows VDACS to quickly determine if a grower’s operation is subject to the federal requirement, or if they are exempt. The online portal allows growers to submit applications, update business information, obtain technical assistance, market to a variety of audiences, and apply for annual exemptions, if eligible.
“The Virginia Produce Safety Grower Portal allows Virginia produce farmers to update farm registration information, obtain educational data, and print a certificate of registration that features the newly designed Virginia Grown logo. Farm information will be shared with the Virginia Grown program as a way to integrate both the regulatory and marketing/promotions function of the agency,” said Joseph Guthrie, VDACS Commissioner.
Virginia produce growers can create an account to complete the registration process at producesafety.vdacs.virginia.gov. Farms and businesses will need to register one time initially and then verify their information at least annually. Portal registration includes:
- Ability to print a registration certificate to market products locally.
- Automatic enrollment in Virginia Grown, a marketing program that promotes fresh, local products to consumers and industry buyers.
- Apply for an exemption (if eligible).
- Receive up-to-date produce safety information, educational and training resources, periodic newsletters and guidance.
Farms within Virginia that grow, harvest, pack or hold produce intended for human consumption and for sale are encouraged to utilize the online portal to register their business with the VDACS Produce Safety Program. This registration process is intended to verify who is and who is not covered under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA): Produce Safety Rule (21 CFR 112). This process also allows VDACS to provide valuable education, technical assistance, and information to regulated farms and businesses, exclude farms that are not required to comply with the rule, and prioritize federally required inspections for those operations that are not exempt.
The VDACS Produce Safety Program will issue exemption certifications based on eligibility as outlined in the Code of Federal Regulation Title 21. Since farm information may change from year to year, producers must update their information and reapply for an exemption annually (at least 30 days before the one-year expiration date). Exemption certificates expire one year following the issue date of the exemption.
Contact the VDACS Produce Safety Program with any questions or concerns at email@example.com or (804) 786-4003.
This project was supported by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award U18FD005901 totaling $3,408,835 with 100 percent funded by FDA/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by FDA/HHS, or the U.S. Government.
–Michael Wallace, VDACS