Animal based soil amendments: FSMA compliance tools for produce growers

New resources for growers and educators help farmers meet new standards.

Photo by Mariel Borgman, MSU Extension.

Biological soil amendments of animal origin (BSAAO), such as manure, compost, emulsions and meals are used on produce farms to increase soil organic matter, to improve fertility and deliver other benefits to crop productivity and farm health. With these benefits, there are also significant risks to consider. If not treated and handled properly, these amendments have the potential to pose microbial risk to fresh produce, resulting in foodborne illness. 

The Produce Safety Rule (PSR) is part of the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This is the first ever mandatory rule regulating produce farms to grow, harvest and sell fresh produce. As part of the PSR, the use of the biological soil amendments of animal origin on produce farms are now regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In 2018, Michigan State University Extension received a grant from the the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) to fund workshops designed to assist in the education of farmers regarding the use of biological soil amendments of animal origin on or around produce covered under the PSR. 

In 2018, MSU Extension hosted five "Safe Use of Animal Based Soil Amendments". The program engaged produce growers of various sizes and practices, with farms ranging in size from four city lots to 250 acres. The program was particularly attractive to beginning farmers, with the majority of the participants reporting five years or less of farming experience. The materials from these workshops, including presentation, templates and videos have recently been published to the MSU Extension Agrifood Safety website and are available to help producers comply with new FSMA rules. Growers and educators can access and download these materials for free. 

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