Most hay growers are exempt from new federal record-keeping requirements designed to protect the nation's food supply, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

FDA's Sept. 22 clarification deals with implementation of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Act of 2002. That law requires “the establishment and maintenance of records by persons who manufacture, process, pack, transport, distribute, receive, hold or import food in the U.S.” The requirement is designed to enable FDA to trace any contamination problem back to its source.

Farms are exempt, but an FDA spokesman told Hay & Forage Grower early this year that growers who sell hay off the farm must comply. However, FDA now says, “No, you do not have to establish and maintain records for the hay you grow and sell to another farmer or to a direct consumer such as a person who owns pleasure horses.”

Anyone who buys hay for resale must keep records on that portion of their sales, as do people who turn hay into processed products. Large operations had to comply by late last year; those with 10 or fewer employees have until December 2006.