Processing Vegetable Growers and the Produce Rule of the Food Safety Modernization Act

Gordon Johnson, Extension Vegetable & Fruit Specialist;

In Delaware, all vegetable growers, including those who grow vegetables for processing, are required to register their farms with the Produce Food Safety Program of the Delaware Department of Agriculture.

As of June 11, 2019; new State Produce Safety regulations (Produce Safety Regulations 302 Del. Code. § 3.0) went into effect which require that all farms within Delaware that grow produce, must register with the Delaware Department of Agriculture to verify compliance with the Produce Safety Rule. In order to verify compliance; fill out the “Grower Registration” provided at this link: and return to the Delaware Department of Agriculture, via the options provided on the form. Once they receive your registration, DDA will contact you to verify if your facility is covered or exempt from the Produce Safety Rule and discuss any next steps.

The Produce Rule largely focuses on vegetables that are consumed raw. Therefore, most processing crop growers will be eligible for a processing exemption. However, this must be verified for each crop.

To receive the processing exemption, you must have a document accompanying each shipment of produce, that the food is “not processed to adequately reduce the presence of microorganisms of public health significance”. In other words, coming from the farm it is still raw. You should state that the produce grown receives commercial processing that adequately reduces the presence of microorganisms of public health significance. In other words that the produce is being processed.

In the future, you will be required to annually obtain written assurance from your buyer stating that they are following procedures that reduce the presence of microorganisms of public health significance and that your produce will undergo an appropriate kill-step process.

If your processor is harvesting and trucking the crop to the processing plant, they can provide language in your contract or as an additional document stating the above. Those growers that do their own harvesting will have to keep these documents on record.