A pig
Property Casualty

Tackling a Greased Pig…or FSMA

Jennifer Ferris
Jennifer Ferris
Property Casualty

Despite the title I’ve given this blog…I’m not actually going to teach you how to tackle a greased pig. I’m not saying that I don’t have some ideas in mind on how to accomplish that, but, for the purposes of this blog, I’m just using “greased pig” metaphorically. You’ll see how in just a second. Sorry if you got excited. Perhaps in my next blog, we’ll “tackle” that subject.

Before I explain my greased pig analogy, I need to give you a little background.

Here goes: On January 4, 2011, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law by President Barack Obama. The goal of the FSMA is to ensure that the United States’ food supply is safe by shifting the focus to prevention of food contamination instead of a previous reactive approach.

How Does the FDA Enforce FSMA?

The FSMA impacts every aspect of the food system — from farmers to manufacturers — and it includes pet food and animal feed. The FSMA has granted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with the authority to implement the FSMA. The law provides the FDA with new enforcement authorities to achieve the end goal of protecting the public health by strengthening the food safety system.

The FDA has five new categories of mandates as a result of the FSMA:

  • Prevention
  • Inspection and Compliance
  • Response
  • Imports
  • Enhanced Partnerships

I get it — pronouncing the “Food Safety Modernization Act” is enough to choke a horse, but digesting the FDA’s mandates into a working formula requires a cow’s four compartment stomach. Because the FSMA encompasses food from dirt to table, I won’t put you all to sleep with the lengthy list of compliance measures. Instead, I’m going to focus my efforts on discussing the small farms that have been removed from the FSMA compliance herd.

Small Farms & FSMA

There are several “final rules” disseminated by the FSMA. The information provided focuses on the exemptions to the Final Rule for Preventive Controls for Animal Food. Operations which meet the definition of “farm” aren’t subject to the preventive controls rule.

  1. The first exception is a Primary Production Farm, which is an operation under one management, in one general location, devoted to the growing of crops, harvesting of crops, raising of animals, or any combination of these activities. Farms are also allowed to pack or hold raw agricultural commodities that are grown on a farm under different ownership as well as companies that solely harvest crops from farms. What does this all mean? Let me give you an example. The following operation is considered a “farm” and isn’t subject to FSMA preventive controls: A farm that raises hogs and operates its own feed mill. The feed mill is considered part of the farm if it’s managed by the farm or the same company as the farm, is in the same general location, and produces food that’s fed only to the animals on that farm or another farm under the same management.
  2. A Secondary Activities Farm is also exempt from the preventive controls requirement. A Secondary Activities Farm is an operation which isn’t located on the primary farm but is devoted to harvesting, packing, and/or holding raw agricultural commodities. It’s required to be owned by the primary farm that supplies the majority of the raw agricultural commodities that are subsequently packed, harvested, or held by the Secondary Activities Farm.

To boil this down…in general, it appears for now that what we refer to in the Midwest as “family farms” are not subject to the preventive controls requirement of the FSMA and the bales of money required to comply with the FSMA.

If you’re unsure whether your ag-related business is subject to the FSMA, it may be wise to contact your loss control specialist at your insurance carrier to ask for assistance. Because…and here’s where my analogy comes in…taking on the requirements of the FSMA all by yourself is like trying to “tackle a greased pig.”

At Holmes Murphy, we’re also available to answer questions. When it comes to complying with federal requirements, we don’t want anyone questioning whether they’re in the right or wrong. So, let us know if you have questions. We’re here to help! Feel free to ask a question below, and we’ll do our best to provide you with a great answer!

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