Skip to main content

- Advertisement -

Safety is top of mind at New Jersey Department of Agriculture

By
Keith Loria

Safety is of main concern for those working on the farms in New Jersey, and the New Jersey Department of Agriculture is committed to ensure that everyone is treated fairly and safely.

The New Jersey Department of Labor and the Department of Community Affairs oversee safety in farm labor housing. This includes inspections of housing facilities, worker conditions and potable water wells.

“The NJDA works with those agencies to communicate their messages with the industry,” said Joe Atchison III, assistant secretary and director of marketing for the NJDA.

During the pandemic, there were changes to labor housing to ensure safe distancing and PPE availability to reduce chances of transmission. As the pandemic has subsided and rules from CDC removed, things have returned to normal in labor housing as well.

This past year, the NJDA produced a farm vehicle safety video to encourage drivers to be more patient and allow farm equipment to move on local roads during the season.

“Nationwide, there are far too many injuries and even fatalities involving farm equipment being struck or illegally passed and drivers need to be aware of the rules involved when encountering farm vehicles on public roadways,” Atchison said. “This video was distributed through our social media channels and through industry groups throughout New Jersey and to police and safety organizations.”

The NJDA also has a resource page on its website with links to several farm safety related organizations. 

The NJDA also provides oversight and guidance in all areas of agricultural production, with an emphasis on grading standards and food safety. The department provides inspection and grading activities related to fresh fruits and vegetables.

“These programs are administered under cooperative agreements with the food and drug administration, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the United States Department of Commerce to enhance the marketability of these commodities for producers and the food industry and assure consumers who purchase these inspected commodities that they meet established standards,” Atchison said.

Additionally, one of the NJDA’S most notable initiatives is its On-Farm Produce Safety website, which provides information regarding the Food Safety Modernization Act, the Produce Safety Rule, required food safety training for growers, third party audit trainings, and FSMA compliance and enforcement. The website also features FDA Compliance timelines, what to expect during a regulatory inspection, records required by the FSMA Produce Safety Rule, and On-Farm Readiness Reviews.

“The greatest challenge is education and outreach to provide hands-on evaluation of food safety programs for all growers, regardless of if a farm is exempt from the FSMA Produce Safety Rule,” Atchison said. “NJDA representatives partner with Rutgers Cooperative Extension and travel to New Jersey farms to help the growers identify potential sources of contamination to produce, and to develop a comprehensive food safety plan to maintain the integrity of their produce.”

Keith Loria

Keith Loria

About Keith Loria  |  email

A graduate of the University of Miami, Keith Loria is a D.C.-based award-winning journalist who has been writing for major publications for close to 20 years on topics as diverse as real estate, food and sports. He started his career with the Associated Press and has held high editorial positions at magazines aimed at healthcare, sports and technology. When not busy writing, he can be found enjoying time with his wife, Patricia, and two daughters, Jordan and Cassidy.

Tagged in:

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -