Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Overview

FDA Materials

New: The FDA announced that on-farm FSMA inspections will not start until 2019. Learn more here.

If my farm is fully subject to FSMA do I need to schedule an inspection?

No. If your farm does not qualify for any of the full or partial exemptions from FSMA than your farm is considered fully covered under the law. You do not sign up or register in this scenario. You are required to implement what the law requires you to do on your farm, but you do not register with the state department of agriculture. You also do not sign up for a FSMA inspection. There’s a small chance that the California Department of Food and Agriculture may randomly select your farm as a farm that they do a FSMA Inspection on. If that happens they will notify you before they show up for the inspection. You can not “sign up” for an inspection. Buyers can not require you to have a FSMA inspection done. Sometimes there is confusion about the difference between a food safety audit vs. food safety inspection. A food safety audit is often called a 3rd party food safety audit and is an in person audit at the farm that the grower elects to do on a voluntary basis. During an audit a grower gets a score based on the number of points they earn for their food safety practices on the farm. A FSMA Inspection is NOT a voluntary farm food safety inspection and is not something you can schedule. Rather, the California Department of Food and Agriculture will contact you to schedule a FSMA Inspection. A FSMA Inspection does not involve “points” and you do not get a score. Instead at the end you are either found in compliance with the law or non-compliance. If you are found in non-compliance you will have to make changes on your farm to get into compliance. Depending on the degree of non-compliance (ie if you have egregious problems on your farm) you may be banned from selling product until you make the changes.


Information on all of the Food Safety Modernization act (FSMA) rules can be found on the FDA website.

FSMA Flow Charts

Determining 25K & 500K Thresholds for Full and Qualified FSMA Exemptions:

FDA Website with tables that show the inflation adjusted value of dollars to determine whether your farm has a full exemption from FSMA (less than $25,000 adjusted dollars in gross produce sales over the last 3 years) or if your farm has a qualified exemption (less than $500,000 in total farm food sales in adjusted dollars over the last 3 years). Scroll down to the Produce Safety Tab and click it to expand and show tables.

Check out NSAC’s blog post explaining the FDA’s monetary cut offs for full FSMA exemptions & qualified exemptions.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
NSAC is an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. Follow the link above to find out about produce rule issues and preventative control rule issues.

NSAC Food Safety Modernization Act Resource:

FAQs on Food Safety Training Requirements for Produce Farms 

Other Resources

Domestic Facility Risk Categorization (FY 2012):  This website defines what a facility is for FDA regulatory purposes.  Facilities are subject to a different set of rules than non-facilities. Farms themselves are not facilities, but a farm could contain a facility.

Sprouts Safety Alliance (FDA): This website describes the FDA collaboration for food safety in sprouts.

Page updated 10/19/17.

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