WEST BEND — An extra measure of
safety is being added to Wisconsin produce farms but for many
growers, several of the commonsense precautions are already in play.
The federal Produce Safety Rule establishes minimum standards for
the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and
vegetables to reduce the risk of microbial contamination.
“Our ultimate goal is to raise food safety awareness with our
Wisconsin growers,” state Department of Agriculture, Trade and
Consumer Protection Outreach and Compliance Specialist Mike Mosher
said. “Fortunately, we already have a community well-versed in food
safety standards and practices. Wisconsin has a good reputation when
it comes to food safety.”
Wisconsin ranks 11th in the nation in number of produce farms and
second in number of organic produce farms.
The DATCP is hoping to complete approximately 70 inspections on
farms that gross over $500,000 in annual food sales that grow
apples, carrots, onions and other produce that people typically eat
University of Wisconsin-Extension Produce Safety Lead Kristin
Krokowski said many of the farms that have already been inspected
were Amish or Plain Faith growers in western Wisconsin that sell to
places like Whole Foods and Organic Valley.
A few hundred businesses with food sales between $250,000 and
$500,000 will have to comply with rules for next year’s growing
season and Mosher expects between 1,500 and 2,200 inspections will
be performed on farms that have between $25,000 and $250,000 gross
food sales in 2021.
Six areas covered in the Produce Safety Rule are water, soil,
sprouts, animals, worker health, hygiene and training, and
equipment, tools and buildings.
DATCP staff, supported by local UW-Extension representatives, offer
no-cost onsite readiness reviews where farmers can find out what
they are doing right and what they need to work on before a formal
Mosher said the DATCP is taking an “education before legislation”
route, teaching growers about the rule and common sense steps they
can take to comply.
“Our goal is not to put anybody out of business,” Krokowski said.
The readiness review consists of a walk-through and questions about
the operation. Notes are taken but all paperwork is given to the
grower and no official record is made.
In most cases, farms already comply with most parts of the law and
just need to keep more detailed records of current practices, Mosher
Krokowski said farms that participate in readiness reviews are low
on the list for inspections.
“We’ve been on the farm and know what is going on already,” she
On-farm reviews started last year and have continued, with
individual growers requesting the service on an almost-daily basis
since May or June.
“What we find most of the time is that growers are relieved. Once
they have a review they find it’s not as great a burden on their
operation that they had feared,” Mosher said.
Mosher said they are taking a soft approach toward implementation in
order to give growers as much time as possible to prepare.
He said even after an inspection begins, if things are looking rough
for the grower inspectors will switch the visit to an on-site
There are also grower training sessions available.
Mosher says the produce safety team, in collaboration with the
UW-Extension, has sponsored more than 20 Food and Drug
Administration- approved review sessions at regional locations
throughout the state.
Two sessions will be held August 22 at Bushel and a Peck Orchard and
Market in Chippewa Falls and September 19 at Sully’s Produce near
Mosher said they are working on holding similar training in
Local growers are encouraged to stop by the open reviews.
More information or registration for public on-site reviews can be
found online at