Policy and Weather Affect Georgia Growers

Jaci Schreckengost Labor, Top Posts, Weather

At the Produce Marketing Association’s 2017 Fresh Summit, policies affecting Georgia growers and the effects of weather on their crops were key topics discussed.

Bo Warren, from the Georgia Department of Agriculture’s policy division, spoke with AgNet Media’s Josh McGill at the summit in October. According to Warren, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and labor are two major policy topics.

Warren said new FSMA regulations are creating concerns for growers. “They’re working through those and want to continue to monitor those regulations as they’re implemented,” he said.

FSMA is described as “the most sweeping reform of our food safety laws in more than 70 years” on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website (https://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/FSMA/default.htm). “It aims to ensure the U.S. food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it,” according to the website.

FSMA puts new regulations in place for food safety, which can create new challenges for growers.

High demand for agricultural labor will persist as an issue, said Warren. Currently, there is a goal of finding a “smoother, more efficient process” for labor. Warren said input is needed to help with this goal.

Georgia growers have a resource for when they have questions or need more information. The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, which Warren said was at the Fresh Summit as well, stays in contact with the growers to provide them with important information.

“They do an excellent job of communicating with our growers, keeping them up-to-date on the latest FSMA changes and how growers can implement those changes on the farm,” Warren said.

The weather this season also brought unexpected challenges to growers. A freeze later than normal in the winter and Hurricane Irma were two situations growers had to deal with, he said.

“So it’s been a challenging year, but we’ve got some of the best farmers in the world,” Warren said. “They’re going to continue to thrive, and we’ll support them the best we can.”

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Jaci Schreckengost

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