Inspection Services Blog

California Agricultural Neighbors report outlines collaborative actions for enhanced food safety in Salinas Valley

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the Monterey County Farm Bureau are joining together to announce the release of “California Agricultural Neighbors: neighbor-to-neighbor best practices to help enhance localized food safety efforts.”

California Agricultural Neighbors (CAN) was formed in January 2021 to bring together members of the Salinas Valley agriculture community to review what could be done to help reduce outbreaks of pathogenic Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7 associated with leafy greens.

CAN provided a roundtable opportunity to foster collaboration and discuss enhanced food safety practices between neighboring farms when various agricultural operations are adjacent to one another, including leafy greens, cattle ranches, vineyards, and compost sites.

CAN membership includes representatives from agriculture production as well as various industry and consumer associations, academia, and government.

Actions for enhanced food safety outlined in the report include:

  1. Foster Neighbor-to-Neighbor Interactions and Conversations
  2. Build a Research Roadmap for the Salinas Valley
  3. Create a Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) Framework
  4. Build and Maintain Capacity to Transfer Knowledge from Research into Applied Practice

Click here to view “California Agricultural Neighbors: Neighbor-to-neighbor best practices to help enhance localized food safety efforts.”

Click here to view a one-page flyer of the food safety actions outlined in the report.

View this original CDFA Planting Seeds blog post.

Posted in CDFA Inspection & Compliance Branch, CDFA Inspection Services Division, CDFA Produce Safety Program | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

CDFA issues $1.89 million penalty to Agro Research International LLC for adulteration and mislabeling of organic fertilizer

The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Fertilizing Materials Inspection Program and California State Organic Program today announced that a penalty of $1.89 million has been issued to Agro Research International LLC of Sorrento, FL, for adulteration and mislabeling of the registered organic input material AGRO GOLD WS. The product was found to contain the synthetic herbicides diquat and glyphosate.
 
CDFA served a “Notice of Penalty and Adverse Determination” to Agro Research International LLC President and CEO Marc Lajeunesse. The notice identified 378 counts of adulteration and mislabeling violations of AGRO GOLD WS. The notice requires an additional payment of $92,312.13 in reimbursement for investigative costs.
 
CDFA initiated an investigation into AGRO GOLD WS – distributed within a box co-packaged with organic herbicide WEED SLAYER – in August 2020. AGRO GOLD WS was registered with CDFA as a “biological amendment” organic input material and was required to adhere to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program standards for organic food and crop production. CDFA’s investigation analyzed 16 unique lots of AGRO GOLD WS. All laboratory analyses indicated unequivocal confirmation of adulteration with diquat and glyphosate at significant levels. Unique samples later analyzed by four other states’ departments of agriculture concurred with CDFA’s results.
 
On December 4, 2020, CDFA’s Fertilizing Materials Inspection Program, pursuant to its authority under the Food and Agricultural Code, issued an order of statewide quarantine and removal from sale.  On the same date, CDFA’s State Organic Program executed a statewide stop use order for AGRO GOLD WS. Sale and use of this product posed a public health risk because the synthetic herbicides were not disclosed on its label. 
 
Parties in possession of AGRO GOLD WS who wish to dispose of quarantined inventory are instructed to submit a disposal plan to CDFA via this form.

View this original CDFA news release here.

Posted in CDFA Feed, Fertilizer and Livestock Drugs Regulatory Services Branch, CDFA Fertilizing Materials Inspection Program, CDFA Inspection Services Division, CDFA Organic Input Material Program | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

CDFA releases Veterinary Feed Directive Summary Report

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announces that its Antimicrobial Use and Stewardship (AUS) program has released the 2020-2021 Veterinary Feed Directive Summary Report.

The report is broken into four main sections: Executive Summary; Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) Data Tables; Data on 2020–2021 Manufacturing and Distribution; and a Conclusion that discusses CDFA’s future steps in working toward reducing antimicrobial resistance in animal agriculture. Each report section has been streamlined for comprehension with the goal of providing complete transparency into VFDs and how they play a part in maintaining and promoting a high standard of public health.

Report features include:

  • Links to both previously released VFD Summary Reports
  • Two years of aggregated data; 2020 and 2021
  • Streamlined information highlighting the VFD Data Tables
  • Updated AUS goals for education, outreach and VFD compliance

Click here to view the 2020-2021 VFD Summary Report.

Posted in CDFA Antimicrobial Use and Stewardship Program, CDFA Commercial Feed Regulatory Program, CDFA Feed, Fertilizer and Livestock Drugs Regulatory Services Branch, CDFA Inspection Services Division, CDFA Livestock Drug Program, CDFA Safe Animal Feed Education (SAFE) | Tagged , | Leave a comment

USDA Announces Assistance for On-Farm Food Safety Expenses for Specialty Crop Growers

New Program Part of Broader Effort to Transform Food System, Create Jobs

From a USDA Farm Service Agency news release

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to provide up to $200 million in assistance for specialty crop producers who incur eligible on-farm food safety program expenses to obtain or renew a food safety certification in calendar years 2022 or 2023. USDA’s new Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops (FSCSC) program will help to offset costs for specialty crop producers to comply with regulatory requirements and market-driven food safety certification requirements, which is part of USDA’s broader effort to transform the food system to create a more level playing field for small and medium producers and a more balanced, equitable economy for everyone working in food and agriculture.  

Specialty crop operations can apply for assistance for eligible expenses related to a 2022 food safety certificate issued on or after June 21, 2022, beginning June 27, 2022. USDA is delivering FSCSC to provide critical assistance for specialty crop operations, with an emphasis on equity in program delivery while building on lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions. Vilsack made the announcement from Hollis, N.H., where he toured a local, family-owned farm and highlighted USDA’s efforts to help reduce costs for farmers and support local economies by providing significant funding to cut regulatory costs and increase market opportunities for farmers in New Hampshire and across the nation.

“The ongoing economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic have created substantial financial challenges for small and very small producers to meet regulatory requirements and access additional markets,” Vilsack said. “These challenges were particularly acute for specialty crop producers, many of whom needed to quickly and completely pivot their operations as demand shifted away from traditional markets, like restaurants and food service. As we build back better, our food systems must be both more inclusive and more competitive. By helping mitigate the costs of on-farm food safety certification, the FSCSC program will support fair, transparent food systems rooted in local and regional production and provide small-scale producers a real opportunity to bring home a greater share of the food dollar and help create jobs.” 

Program Details 

FSCSC will assist specialty crop operations that incurred eligible on-farm food safety certification and related expenses related to obtaining or renewing a food safety certification in calendar years 2022 and 2023. For each year, FSCSC covers a percentage of the specialty crop operation’s cost of obtaining or renewing their certification, as well as a portion of their related expenses. 

To be eligible for FSCSC, the applicant must be a specialty crop operation; meet the definition of a small business or very small business; and have paid eligible expenses related to the 2022 (issued on or after June 21, 2022) or 2023 certification. 

Specialty crop operations may receive assistance for the following costs: 

  • Developing a food safety plan for first-time food safety certification
  • Maintaining or updating an existing food safety plan
  • Food safety certification
  • Certification upload fees
  • Microbiological testing for products, soil amendments and water
  • Training

FSCSC payments are calculated separately for each category of eligible costs. A higher payment rate has been set for socially disadvantaged, limited resource, beginning and veteran farmers and ranchers. Details about the payment rates and limitations can be found at farmers.gov/food-safety.

Applying for Assistance 

The FSCSC application period for 2022 is June 27, 2022, through January 31, 2023, and the application period for 2023 will be announced at a later date. FSA will issue payments at the time of application approval for 2022 and after the application period ends for 2023. If calculated payments exceed the amount of available funding, payments will be prorated. 

Interested specialty crop producers can apply by completing the FSA-888, Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops Program (FSCSC) application. The application, along with other required documents, can be submitted to the FSA office at any USDA Service Center nationwide by mail, fax, hand delivery or via electronic means. Producers can visit farmers.gov/service-locator to find their local FSA office. Specialty crop producers can also call 877-508-8364 to speak directly with a USDA employee ready to assist.

Producers can visit farmers.gov/food-safety for additional program details, eligibility information and forms needed to apply. 

Posted in CDFA Inspection & Compliance Branch, CDFA Inspection Services Division | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Middle school garden incorporates agricultural tips for water conservation

Part of Mt. Diablo School District’s Farm to School Incubator Grant Program grant to enhance the existing 2.25-acre school garden at Riverview Middle School is to spread the news about agricultural practices of utilizing swales and berms to conserve water.

As described on the school garden sign (pictured), swales are level trenches dug on contour with the land intended to slow the spread of water so that the water may sink into the ground. Berms are mounds of soil on the down-hill side of the swale that further slow the spread of water, with growth planted in the berms to utilize some of the captured water. A sign illustration shows how swale and berm utilization can grow groundwater plumes for the benefit of neighboring gardens.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Farm to Fork (CDFA-F2F) is accepting applications through July 6 for the 2022 California Farm to School Incubator Grant Program. Click here for more information.

View this original post on the CDFA Planting Seeds blog.

Posted in CDFA Farm to School Network, CDFA Farm to School Program, CDFA Inspection Services Division, CDFA Office of Farm to Fork | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

CA Farm to School Network newsletter spotlights funding, resources and community collaboration

Click here to read the California Farm to School Network June newsletter.

The California Farm to School Network includes farm to school practitioners and enthusiasts statewide. Visit the CDFA Farm to School Program webpage to subscribe to these monthly updates that include information about grants, resources, research, webinars, events and news from the National Farm to School Network. The California Farm to School Program is part of the California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Farm to Fork (CDFA-F2F) in the Division of Inspection Services.

Posted in CDFA Farm to School Network, CDFA Farm to School Program, CDFA Inspection Services Division, CDFA Office of Farm to Fork | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

ISD Staff Spotlight: Amy Garfinkel enjoys supporting statewide farm to school efforts

NAME: Amy Garfinkel

YEARS AT CDFA: 1.5

PROGRAM: Farm to School

TITLE: Farm to School Network Lead

MEMORABLE MOMENT ON THE JOB? I feel very grateful to get to work as a part of the California Farm to School team. Each day, we work together to administer the California Farm to School Incubator Grant Program and coordinate the California Farm to School Network. I really enjoy talking with grantees and others throughout the state who are involved or interested in farm to school and learning how we can best support their work.

HOW DO YOU WORK FOR THE CALIFORNIA FOOD SUPPLY? Our team helps to support California farm to school programs, which connect California food producers and schools, increase students’ access to California-grown food in school meals, and engage students in hands-on learning opportunities about food.

THOUGHTS OF WORKING AT INSPECTION SERVICES? I love it!

MEMORABLE MOMENT ON THE JOB? A few months ago, our team toured a school district’s new central kitchen where school food professionals will prepare school meals for students from scratch using fresh, local ingredients. It was really exciting and inspiring to see the space and hear about the district’s plans to increase students’ access to fresh, delicious and nourishing meals. There were murals on some of the walls featuring beautiful produce that the district buys from local farms and there were also amazing cooking tools like a life-sized salad spinner and dough maker!

PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE? I love this quote by Julia Child; it’s about cooking but I think it also applies to life! “Try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun.”

Posted in CDFA Farm to School Network, CDFA Farm to School Program, CDFA Inspection Services Division, CDFA Office of Farm to Fork | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

CDFA announces vacancies on Feed Inspection Advisory Board Technical Advisory Subcommittee

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announces two vacancies on the Feed Inspection Advisory Board Technical Advisory Subcommittee (TASC).
 
This subcommittee provides technical and scientific advice to the Feed Inspection Advisory Board and CDFA on animal food nutrition, safety and efficacy data review of new and unapproved feed ingredients, research project oversight and other issues that will affect CDFA’s Commercial Feed Regulatory Program, Livestock Drug Program and Safe Animal Feed Education (SAFE) Program.
 
Applicants must demonstrate technical, applied and scientific expertise in the fields of toxicology, pathology, ruminant and non-ruminant nutrition, as well as possess general knowledge of the California feed industry.

The term of office for subcommittee members is three years. Members receive no compensation but are entitled to payment of necessary travel expenses. Individuals interested in being considered for appointment should send a resume and a Feed TASC Prospective Member Appointment Questionnaire (http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/is/ffldrs/pdfs/FIAB-TASC_PMAQ.pdf) to SAFE@cdfa.ca.gov. The application deadline is July 2, 2022.
 
For further information about the Feed Inspection Advisory Board TASC, please contact CDFA Feed, Fertilizer and Livestock Drugs Regulatory Services branch staff at (916) 900-5022 or visit http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/is/ffldrs/Feed_FIAB.html.

View this original CDFA news release.

Posted in CDFA Commercial Feed Regulatory Program, CDFA Feed Inspection Advisory Board, CDFA Feed Inspection Advisory Board Technical Advisory Subcommittee, CDFA Feed, Fertilizer and Livestock Drugs Regulatory Services Branch, CDFA Inspection Services Division | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

CDFA environmental scientist offers technical assistance at Farming to Grow California’s Black Specialty Crop Farmers workshop

Dr. Don Stoeckel, senior environmental scientist for the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Produce Safety Program, discusses good agricultural practices to minimize microbial contamination in the production and handling of fresh fruits, vegetables and tree nuts at a recent technical assistance workshop in Yolo County. The workshop, “Farming to Grow California’s Black Specialty Crop Farmers,” was offered by Farms to Grow through funding support of the CDFA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops grown by historically marginalized African American farmers in California.  

Posted in CDFA Inspection & Compliance Branch, CDFA Inspection Services Division, CDFA Produce Safety Program | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Secretary Ross learns about farm to school efforts in Inland Empire

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross (center) joined CDFA Farm to School Program Lead Nick Anicich (left) yesterday for a visit with Old Grove Orange – a group of small growers headquartered in Redlands – to learn about the group’s farm to school program and food hub operation. CDFA’s 2022 California Farm to School Incubator Grant Program is accepting applications until July 6 to award competitive grants to support projects that advance farm to school throughout California. View this original post on CDFA Planting Seeds.
Posted in CDFA Farm to School Network, CDFA Farm to School Program, CDFA Inspection Services Division, CDFA Office of Farm to Fork | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment