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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Produce Safety Rule (PSR) and how is it different from Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs)?
  • Understanding the difference between GAPs certification and the PSR will be essential for growers. Simply put, GAPs are a voluntary food safety program driven by buyers’ requirements, whereas the PSR is law. The FSMA’s PSR establishes, for the first time, science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption, which some produce growers must adhere to. The PSR does not require a food safety plan, while GAPs certification does. Even if a farm is FSMA compliant, chances are a buyer maintaining higher food safety standards will require farms to have a third-party GAPs certification in order to sell to them. Buyers strictly define their requirements, so it is best to identify the buyer and know what their standards are before undergoing a GAPs audit.

I only grow Christmas trees or just raise cattle; why am I receiving and Exemption Affidavit?
  • Part of the FDA Cooperative Agreement that gave West Virginia funding to establish a Produce Safety Inspection program required a thorough inventory of produce farms in the state. Since this is a new law, this inventory is starting with the more than 21,000 USDA classified farms in the state. If you do not grow, harvest, pack or store produce in West Virginia you simply need to check the non-grower box at the end of the Basic Exemption Affidavit and file it once with WVDA to exclude yourself from the yearly filing requirement. If you chose later to diversify and add produce to your farm, simply contact us at produce@wvda.us and we will be happy to add you back to the produce grower list.

We grow produce at the farm that we sell at an approved West Virginia Farmers Market under the Cottage Food Law (i.e. jarred salsa, salad mix). Which requirements do we need to meet?
  • It will depend on the final form of the product. You may have to meet the requirements of the Produce and Cottage Food law depending on the final chemical make-up and determination of the products potential hazard. We recommend that you consult with the Regulatory and Environmental Affairs Division at the Department of Agriculture (304-558-2226) or email the Produce Program Manager at produce@wvda.us to explore programs, licenses and testing that may apply to your product as well as whether you need a Farmers Market Vending Permit.
  • If you are selling beyond a WV licensed farmers market, you are engaged in interstate commerce and should contact your WV Bureau of Public Health District Sanitarian to get more details about food manufacturing, commercial kitchen development and permitting.

My farm is highly diversified and I am selling through many channels including wholesale to retail, etc. How do I find out which FDA rules I need to follow such as Produce and Preventive Controls Facilty Rules?
  • This flowchart, prepared by the National Sustainable Agriculture Association should provide you some guidance on where your production and products fit into the regulatory scheme. In a few cases, West Virginia growers may need to receive a produce and processed foods inspection. When in doubt, feel free to describe your circumstances and we will do our best to refer to the appropriate inspectional authority. Email produce@wvda.us or call the Regulatory and Environmental Affairs Division (READ) at (304) 558-2226.

Farm Food Safety Training  

WV Farm Food Safety Training Team