The 2016 Iowa City Farmers Market kicks off May 4 and this year, for the first time, produce vendors will be faced with the implementation of the new Food Safety Modernization Act.
The Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law January 2011 and the final rules were released nationwide fall of 2015. Small produce farms in Iowa will need to assess whether they are impacted by this act and then address compliance within the 3-4 year federal timeline. The Act's "Produce Rule" covers on-farm food safety procedures like storage and handling, employee hygiene, and potable water used for everything from irrigation to washing.
Iowa Valley Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) works in Eastern Iowa and collaborates statewide to address the needs of and provide resources to Iowa's small farms. In the coming years, Iowa Valley RC&D will be working with community, county, and state partners to educate and train produce farmers in Iowa regarding these new federal rules. Iowa Valley RC&D's Food System Planner Jason Grimm will be leading the effort.
Grimm has worked as Food System Planner with Iowa Valley RC&D for more than six years. He also farms himself at Grimm Family Farm near Williamsburg. Grimm says "food safety is customer-focused, but farmer-driven. We hope that these rules can be a force for growth and improvement on our local farms, instead of a deterrent for market expansion. We also want consumers to recognize that locally-grown food has to meet safety standards and often exceeds them. Local produce is a viable option when people are concerned about food safety."
For those interested in learning more, consumers or vendors, Jason Grimm will be at the Iowa City Farmer’s Market on Saturday, May 7 from 7:30 a.m. - noon. He will be joined by a team of University of Iowa undergraduate students who are learning about the Food Safety Modernization Act as part of their Strategic Communications class. Look for them near the entrance of the market along Washington Street. For more information visit http://www.ivrcd.org/. This project is in collaboration with the Office of Outreach & Engagement's RC&D Partnership.