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FSMA Information for Farmers

The Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA, was passed by Congress in 2011. This major legislation consists of seven rules aimed at different points in the global food supply chain. Of the seven, the rule that most directly impacts farmers is the Produce Safety Rule, which focuses on preventing contamination of raw agricultural commodities that are grown, harvested, packed, or held on farms. 

Click here to visit the Food and Drug Administration website on FSMA
Click here to see the full text of the FSMA Produce Rule

The other part of FSMA that may affect farmers is the Preventive Controls Rule, which applies to food processing. For information about the Preventive Controls Rule, please visit the Food Safety for Commercial Producers page or contact:

Amanda Kinchla
Department of Food Science
(413) 545-0187

FSMA Produce Rule

All FSMA information on this site is in regards to the Produce Rule, which focuses on preventing contamination of raw agricultural commodities that are grown, harvested, packed, or held on farms. While FSMA is overseen by the FDA, the FSMA Produce Rule will be implemented at the state level by state regulatory authorities; in Massachusetts this authority to inspect and regulate farms lies with MDAR.

FSMA Requirement Topics

FSMA requirements cover the areas listed below. Please visit the following pages and review the general food safety information along with the FSMA requirements on each page.


FSMA includes lots of specific terminology that can sometimes be difficult to interpret, for example the word “covered”.

  • “Covered farms” are farms that are required to comply with FSMA on some level.
  • “Covered activities” are activities for which there are some regulations within FMSA; for example produce growing, harvesting, washing, packing, or storing practices.
  • “Covered produce” refers to produce that FSMA applies to – that is, produce commonly eaten raw. “Exempt produce” refers to produce that is not covered under FMSA, or produce that is rarely consumed raw. Any commodity that is not on the list below is considered “covered produce”.

Exempt produce: Asparagus, beans (black, great Northern, kidney, lima, navy, pinto), garden beets (roots and tops), sugar beets, cashews, chickpeas, cocoa beans, coffee beans, collards, cranberries, dates, dill (seeds and weed), eggplants, figs, ginger, hazelnuts, horseradish, lentils, okra, peanuts, pecans, peppermint, potatoes, pumpkins, sour cherries, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, water chestnuts, and winter squash.

Compliance Dates

The FDA has staggered the rollout of FSMA. Larger farms must comply with FSMA sooner than smaller farms. See the FSMA Compliance Tool below to determine when or if you need to comply, based on your farm size.

FSMA Compliance Tool

Not sure whether or not you need to comply with FSMA? Use our compliance tool to determine if you need to comply, when you need to comply by, and which requirements apply to your farm.

FSMA Compliance Tool


FMSA requires that covered farms keep specific records. Templates for required records can be found in the document below. However, in many cases, it is hard to show that your farm is meeting other FSMA requirements without keeping records that are not explicitly required by FSMA. Recommended recordkeeping logs are included in each of the food safety topic pages, listed at the top of this page.

Records Required by FSMA

Standard Operating Procedures

Developing Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) can help show that you are operating in ways that are compliant with FSMA. SOPs are also a great tool for streamlining protocols on your farm, producing more consistent products, and training new hires. Click here for more information on SOPs.


At least one employee from each covered farm is required to receive food safety training. Training is recommended but not required for qualified exempt farms. The Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training is one example of this training. Trainings will be held annually in Massachusetts, and training dates will be posted on the UMass Vegetable Extension Upcoming Events page. To see upcoming trainings in other states, click here.

Farm Food Safety Plans & Traceability

Although farm food safety plans and traceability measures are not required by FSMA, we recommend developing an all-encompassing plan for your farm and enacting traceability measures that allow you to track what produce goes where from your farm. Some voluntary food safety certification programs do require a traceability plan. Visit our Farm Food Safety Plans & Traceability page for more information.


If you can't find the information you're looking for on our website, please contact your regional MDAR produce safety expert (contact information can be found here: MDAR Produce Safety Team) or UMass Extension (contact information below).

Lisa McKeag
UMass Extension Educator
(413) 577-3976