Training Extension agents in Kentucky and Oklahoma on the Food Safety Modernization Act and food safety, sanitation, and good hygiene practices related to products for sale at farmers market

Final report for ES16-130

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2016: $78,166.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2019
Grant Recipient: University of Kentucky
Region: Southern
State: Kentucky
Principal Investigator:
Paul Priyesh Vijayakumar
University of Kentucky
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Project Information

Abstract:

Original timeline has been adjusted based on several variables. Year 1 has been spent engaging with stakeholders around the state and has resulted in this project becoming integrated with existing food safety programs. The project team held a stakeholder meeting in September 2016, bringing together grower leaders, extension agents, specialists, state government, and community market members to discuss the needs for a new produce food safety  curriculum. We have kept our advisory council informed through the duration of the project. Our initial meetings were highly productive, and have spurred deeper collaboration between the project team and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture as well as the Kentucky Department of Health. The resultant new updated curriculum developed through this project will now be the official statewide food safety curriculum for all growers offering raw samples at market. This curriculum replaces an outdated predecessor and will be introduced according to the timeline below:

Spring 2017: New curriculum is first introduced

January 1, 2018: Old curriculum is no longer offered, though old curriculum is still recognized by KDA.

January 1, 2020: Old curriculum no longer recognized by KDA, all producers must have new training.

These collaborations have been very fruitful, and the timeline above integrates our project into existing structures that will amplify its message and success. However, this process has also taken considerable time. Due to some restructuring at the department of health, we have delayed the baseline survey of health inspectors until Summer 2017. Based on feedback from our advisory committee, the project team adapted and revamped existing curricula and developed new video resources during fall and winter of 2016. We also circulated a survey of all extension agents to solicit their opinions about the updating of this curriculum, and integrated their information into our plan. This curriculum went through review by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, as well as specialists at the Universities of Kentucky and Oklahoma in early 2017. The first in-person train-the-trainer agent training was hosted in western Kentucky in early April 2017. The training was well-received. As of late April 2017, we have at least 1 train-the-trainer scheduled in each of Kentucky’s seven extension districts. Upon completion of this curriculum, agents will be authorized to deliver the new food safety curriculum to their producers effective immediately.  We anticipate most agent-led trainings will start in fall 2017 and spring 2018. 

The adjusted timeline we have followed will allow for longer-term success and impact of this program. 

Project Objectives:

Specific objectives of the training program are to increase knowledge, confidence and the skill set of Extension agents in teaching topics of high priority such as,
• Food microbiology overview and pathogens of concern
• Basic food handler hygiene (hand washing and toilet use)
• Food types and associated food safety risks
• High risk food (ready-to-eat)
• Hot and cold food (cooking and storage temperature requirements)
• Cross contamination
• Sanitation (utensils and food contact surfaces)
• Food sampling
• General food safety regulations outlined by local and state health departments, and
• Overview of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and its transitional impacts.

These specific training objectives will be accomplished through interactive slide presentations, demonstrations, case studies, and question and answer and breakout sessions (with individual and group activities).

Short-term outcomes will include enhanced knowledge and skill set (demonstrated during
interactive train-the-trainer sessions) of Extension agents (around 150 in KY and 140 in
Oklahoma) on food safety, hygiene and sanitation practices related to farmers’ markets. In order to ensure enhancement of knowledge, agents will be required to be present during the entire length of the training program (mandatory attendance) to be eligible to take the post-test, and should obtain at least a 70% in the post-test to receive a certificate of course completion. Trainees who do not obtain 70% will be given a second chance to complete the test after a brief tutorial on specific parts of the curriculum they have problem with. To ensure enhanced skill set on food safety and hygiene practices, agents will need to demonstrate practices they were taught during the course of the training program such as proper hand washing procedure and cleaning and sanitizing of facility or equipment (change of practice).

Workshops and listening sessions conducted by trained and skilled Extension agents will change the safety practices, food handling approach and behaviors of farmers’ market managers, and their employees (intermediate outcomes) who in turn will affect a change in the farmers’ market vendors and their employees. Such change of behavior will be clearly evident and directly observed by health inspectors in farmers’ markets (change of practice). Behavior changes will result in a local food system that is safe, healthy, and less prone to food-borne illness (longterm outcome). The ultimate beneficiaries (farmers, farmers’ market vendors, and their employees) will also be able to answer consumer’s questions on food safety and sanitation practices connected to their products and operations, eventually increasing consumer confidence in local food products. This increase in consumer confidence will be measured by increased sampling certification, increase in retail sales of local foods, and number of (Good Agricultural Practices) GAP certified farmers/ cooperatives , increase in homebased processor, microprocessors, and commercial food processors. The notion “Know Your Farmer, Know You’re Safe, Enjoy Quality Food” will be promoted. Increased consumer confidence will contribute to the economic viability of local food systems.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Pam Hendren (Educator)
  • Ryan Burnette (Educator)
  • Sharon Spencer (Educator)
  • Dr. Ravi Jadeja (Educator and Researcher)
  • Louie Rivers, Jr (Educator)
  • Brett Wolff (Educator)

Education

Educational approach:

This project employs a train-the-trainer approach. The project team conducted a series of in-class training for Extension agents that including slide presentations, demonstrations, case studies, and Q&A and breakout sessions. Training presentations will be recorded and archived for future access. Workshop cover topics such as food microbiology overview and pathogens of concern, basic food handler hygiene (hand washing and toilet use), food types and associated food safety risks, high risk food (ready-to-eat), hot and cold food (cooking and storage temperature requirements), cross contamination, sanitation (utensils and food contact surfaces), food sampling, general food safety regulations outlined by the local and state health departments, and overview of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and its transitional impacts. The agents are evaluated for their level of competency using post-tests, and demonstration of skills during interactive sessions (change of practice). 

Once agents successfully completed their training, they delivered food safety education to their clients, amplifying the effectiveness of this project. 

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Produce Best Practices Training - Train the Trainer
Objective:

To be pro-active on food safety and strengthen the local food system by increasing the number of trainers in Kentucky, to educate the growers on the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) - Produce Safety Rule (PSR)

Description:

The Kentucky GAP program was revamped by a joint effort between KDA and FSIC. This update was necessary to include the latest information and practices from the new Federal FSMA-PSR implemented by the FDA in 2016. New trainings were offered to growers who offer raw samples at farmers markets approved by the KDA and Roadside Stands approved by Kentucky Farm Bureau. The new, updated program is called “Produce Best Practices Training (PBPT).” I offered 11, six-hour PBPT train –the-trainer in-service training for County Extension Agents in each of the seven Extension districts. A total of 220 County Extension Agents representing all programming areas participated and successfully completed the training by scoring 70% or higher on the post-training test. 

Outcomes and impacts:

My trainings empowered County Extension personnel (363) to:

  1. Provide food samples during educational programs and community events.
  2. Train agricultural producers on Produce Best Practices (PBPT) and food sampling for marketing purposes.
  3. Work closely with their local health department.
  4. Work with agriculture producers who are diversifying their operations and desire to add value to their products.

County Extension Agents who participated in the PBPT training trained growers in Kentucky in the new PBPT program, and KDA data shows that they have issued 1,223 sampling certificates to growers since May 2017 to June 2019.

During 2017 and 2018, over 65,000 people gained access to Extension programming at farmer markets (79 counties reporting).  Almost 34,000 Extension clients reported using farmers markets, community supported agriculture, and food pantries to access healthy food.  They reported spending over $173,000 of Electronic Benefit Transfers (EBT), and WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program benefits at 78 farmers markets. Agriculture and Natural Resource (ANR) Extension Agents in Morgan, Rowan, Lewis, Elliott, and Carter Counties hosted an annual training for farmer market vendors. In 2018, over 300 vendors attended to learn about food safety, value added products and marketing. 

Program Evaluation Response (125 trainees responded)

Module 1: Preview of Food Safety Programs and Microbiology- 91.20 % of the participants strongly agreed that the module was very useful . 

Module 2: Manure Use – 88.80 % of the participants strongly agreed that the module was very useful. 

Module 3: Water and Wildlife – 85.60 % of the participants strongly agreed that the module was very useful.

Module 4: Worker Hygiene and Health – 90.40 % of the participants strongly agreed that the module was very useful. 

Module 5: Equipment Sanitation and Post-harvest Handling – 84.80 % of the participants strongly agreed that the module was very useful. 

Module 6: Farm Food Safety Plan, Records, and Traceability – 82.40 % of the participants strongly agreed that the module was very useful. 

Module 7: FSMA Overview – 67.20 % of the participants strongly agreed that the module was very useful. 

Overall material in the Kentucky PBPT for my plans will be – 89.60 % of the participants strongly agreed that the overall material was very useful.

The amount of material for the time allowed was – 66.40 % of the participants reported that the material was about right and 32.00% of the participants reported that the material was too much.

How confident do you feel about conducting the Kentucky PBPT? – 72.00% of the participants reported that they are very confident and 26.40 % of the participants reported they are somewhat confident in presenting the Kentucky Produce Best Practices training information to growers

Produce Best Practices Training - Grower Training
Objective:

To train growers to issue raw samples at farmers market and educate them on the new federal Food Safety Modernization Act - Produce Safety Rule

Description:

PBPT trained Extension agents train growers in Kentucky (3 hour in-class training) to obtain a raw sampling certificate from Kentucky Department of Agriculture, assist growers in preparing safe, raw samples at farmers markets across Kentucky, and educate growers on the Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule. 

 

Outcomes and impacts:

County Extension Agents who participated in the PBPT training trained growers in Kentucky in the new PBPT program, and KDA data shows that they have issued 1,223 sampling certificates to growers since May 2017 to June 2019.

Program Evaluation Response (421 growers responded)

Module 1: Preview of Food Safety Programs and Microbiology- 98.09 % of growers strongly agreed that the module was very useful. 

Module 2: Manure Use – 94.01 % of growers strongly agreed that the module was very useful.

Module 3: Water and Wildlife – 93.82 % of growers strongly agreed that the module was very useful. 

Module 4: Worker Hygiene and Health – 96.42 % of growers strongly agreed that the module was very useful. 

Module 5: Equipment Sanitation and Post-harvest Handling – 97.12 % of growers strongly agreed that the module was very useful. 

Module 6: Farm Food Safety Plan, Records, and Traceability – 95.74 % of growers strongly agreed that the module was very useful. 

Module 7: FSMA Overview – 87.18 % of growers strongly agreed that the module was very useful.

Overall material in the Kentucky PBPT for my plans will be – 95.81.87 % of growers strongly agreed that the overall material was very useful. 

9. The amount of material for the time allowed was – 94.16 % of the growers reported that the material was about right and 5.84% of growers reported that the material was too much.

10. How well did the agent/trainer present? – 99.27 % of growers reported that the trainers were great in presenting the information.

11. After attending the training, how confident do you feel about addressing/reducing the biggest food safety to fresh produce on your farms? – 96.70% of growers reported that they are very confident and 3.30 % of growers reported they are somewhat confident in addressing/reducing the biggest food safety to fresh produce on their farms

Produce Safety Webpage and Peer Reviewed Online Resources
Objective:

Create a comprehensive produce safety web page to make on-line resources readily available for stakeholders and provide regular produce safety updates.

Description:

Online content development is key to meet the needs of stakeholders in remote locations or in operations where they cannot dedicate time and resources to travel to educational meetings. Online content is also a great resource for County Extension Agents that allows quick access to training materials for them and their local clients, and provides quick access to a calendar with dates for different food safety trainings/workshops/activities across the 120 counties in Kentucky. A produce safety website (http://www.uky.edu/ccd/foodsafety) that is a one-stop-shop for all materials related to produce safety was developed in collaboration with the Center for Crop Diversification in the Department of Agriculture Economics. This webpage houses fact sheets, numbered Extension publications, guidance documents, newsletters, online tools, future trainings (dates, location, and registration information), names, and contact information for key people such as consultants, regulators, and testing laboratories.

Peer reviewed Online Tools:

  1. Online Qualtrics FSMA Decision Tool for Kentucky Farmers. Vijayakumar, P. P., Wolff, B., and Brislen, L (2017). Will FSMA apply to me? Find out! – The FSMA rule navigator tool, an online questionnaire that provides growers with guidance on if/how the FSMA Produce Safety Rule applies to their farm operation. https://uky.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_9oQEXqziH1yYmdD
  2. Mapping Water Testing Labs for FSMA Compliance – Interactive Geographic Horticulture Directory for Kentucky. Vijayakumar, P. P., Knight, J. (2018). Developed in partnership with Horticulture Extension Associate, this first publication on FSMA, “Food Safety Modernization Act-Produce Safety Rule Agricultural Water, an Introduction,” was released in May 2018. This resource has a target audience of water testing labs and specialty crop producers, and introduces the PSR and the associated water-testing requirement and key definitions. In the spring of 2018, my team compiled a complete list of water testing facilities in the state. This inventory was used for both generating our sample for a survey of water labs, and for an interactive online-map of water testing labs. This interactive map is currently housed online at the Center for Crop Diversification website (uky.edu/ccd/maps).
  3. 19 newsletter articles/factsheets (13 as lead author) on a variety of food safety topics.
Outcomes and impacts:

 Digital overview of the produce food safety webpage and resources (Source: Google analytics)

Overview of Food Safety Web Page Visits and Resource Downloads

Web Page

Visits

Downloads from Web Page

General Food Safety

2083

615

FSMA

505

426

Third Party GAP

148

88

PBPT

1284

42

PBPT Training Dates

1630

44

PBPT Agent

311

401

 

Publication Downloads

Publication

No. Downloads

FSMA Ag-Water 1

44

FSMA Ag-Water 2

101

Packing & Storing

438

Dehydration

37

GAP/GHP PowerPoint

71

Wildlife

30

Agent PBPT Presentation

142

FSMA Decision Tool

136

PBPT Diploma Excel Sheet

65

U.S. Food Safety System

60

YouTube Videos (July 2017 to June 2019): I have published four YouTube videos that collectively have 2,861 views.

Produce Best Practices Short-Video at the Regional Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Conferences
Objective:

To introduce on-farm food safety short-video to educate growers and farm workers

Description:

A 20 minute on-farm produce safety video was created through the SSARE-PDP to test a new non-traditional learning venue for growers and farm workers. Due to their busy schedule, it is difficult for farms to allocate time for training. Additionally, most farms pay workers by the hour and therefore the time for the training is an additional cost. This 20 minute video that focuses on basics of food safety and hygiene will provide their workers with necessary information that will save time and provide workers with an interesting alternative to traditional training course or power point presentation. 

Produce Best Practices short-movie – link

https://youtu.be/AQ95-ZX8VgY

Outcomes and impacts:

After extensive advertising at the conference, we had 40 growers and farm workers that participated in watching the video.

PBPT Farmers’ Market Sampling and Food Safety Presentation for Nutrition Education Program Assistants and Staff
Objective:

To help growers offer safely prepared raw samples at farmers’ markets

Description:

Nutrition Education Program (NEP) Assistants and NEP State staff members assist growers to offer raw samples at farmers market approved by the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and roadside stands approved by Kentucky Farm Bureau. As the lead trainer for the state, I offered the PBPT Grower Training to at the Nutrition Education Program training in Lexington to 120 Nutrition Education Program (NEP) Assistants and 14 NEP State staff members. All the 134 trainees successfully completed the training to help growers offer safety prepared samples at farmers’ markets across the state. 

Outcomes and impacts:

My trainings empowered NEP Assistants (120), and NEP professional staff (14) to:

  1. Provide food samples during educational programs and community events.
  2. Train agricultural producers on Produce Best Practices (PBPT) and food sampling for marketing purposes.
  3. Work closely with their local health department.
  4. Work with agriculture producers who are diversifying their operations and desire to add value to their products.

NEP Assistants who participated in the PBPT training reported reaching 9,188 adult Kentuckians in the 2016-2017 reporting year.

 

Educational & Outreach Activities

502 Consultations
12 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
12 On-farm demonstrations
1 Online trainings
19 Published press articles, newsletters
10 Webinars / talks / presentations
32 Workshop field days

Participation Summary

363 Extension
4 Researchers
2 Nonprofit
4 Agency
1539 Farmers/ranchers

Learning Outcomes

1539 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
363 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

3 Grants received that built upon this project
3 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:

My trainings empowered County Extension Agents (220), NEP Assistants (120), and NEP professional staff (14) to:

  1. Provide food samples during educational programs and community events.
  2. Train agricultural producers on Produce Best Practices (PBPT) and food sampling for marketing purposes.
  3. Work closely with their local health department.
  4. Work with agriculture producers who are diversifying their operations and desire to add value to their products.

NEP Assistants who participated in the PBPT training reported reaching 9,188 adult Kentuckians in the 2016-2017 reporting year. County Extension Agents who participated in the PBPT training trained growers in Kentucky in the new PBPT program, and KDA data shows that they have issued 1,223 sampling certificates to growers since May 2017 to June 2019.

Healthy Lifestyles

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 35.1% of Kentucky adults are overweight and 31.6% are obese.  More than 46% of adults reported consuming less than one fruit a day and 24.9% reported eating vegetables less than one time.  A healthy diet and physical activity can lower risk of chronic disease.  Medical costs associated with obesity are estimated at $147 billion per year (2016). Family and Consumer Science (FCS) Extension professionals and volunteers use the Plate It Up, Kentucky Proud curriculum to introduce adults and youth to locally accessible fruits and vegetables, influence food selection, and improve nutrition.  Fresh fruits and vegetables can be more expensive than processed items at the grocery store.  Adults are reluctant to purchase foods that they have not eaten before, lack knowledge on selection and storage methods, as well as, preparation.  To overcome economic and cultural challenges, FCS provide samples of Plate It Up recipes at local grocery stores, farmers markets, food pantries, schools and community events. To provide samples to the public, I have conducted PBPT trainings to 220 County Extension Agents, 120 NEP Assistants, and 14 NEP professional staff members. During 2017 to 2018, 74 Kentucky counties reported conducting Plate It Up! Kentucky Proud activities. Over 40,000 adults reported they were more likely to buy Kentucky fruits or vegetables because of tasting a Plate It Up! Kentucky Proud sample.   Over 44% reported an increased consumption of fruits and vegetables with 16% reporting that they were consuming the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables from the USDA Dietary Guidelines. 

Farmers Market

In Hardin County, Extension professionals and volunteers conducted the Power of Produce (POP) Club for youth under the age of 18 at the farmers market on 8 days during 2018. Youth were able to complete activities and sample a fruit or vegetables to earn vouchers that can be redeemed for produce at the market. Over 600 youth tried a new food and earned approximately $3,000. The increase in customers on POP Club days resulted in a 15% to 20% increase in sales. Over 75% of parents reported that their children were requesting their parents to serve the foods they tasted. Sampling programs were conducted by Extension in school classrooms and cafeterias. In Hardin County, 60% of over 400 students tried a new fruit or vegetable for the first time (i.e. zucchini). 

During 2017 and 2018, over 65,000 people gained access to Extension programming at farmer markets (79 counties reporting).  Almost 34,000 Extension clients reported using farmers markets, community supported agriculture, and food pantries to access healthy food.  They reported spending over $173,000 of Electronic Benefit Transfers (EBT), and WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program benefits at 78 farmers markets. Agriculture and Natural Resource (ANR) Extension Agents in Morgan, Rowan, Lewis, Elliott, and Carter Counties hosted an annual training for farmer market vendors. In 2018, over 300 vendors attended to learn about food safety, value added products and marketing. 

363 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
1223 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Additional Outcomes:

Grants received that built upon this project

  1. PI for $805,000 Kentucky FSMA Implementation agreement grant in partnership with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, funded by the FDA. As the PI for the recently approved Kentucky’s FSMA Implementation Agreement from the FDA for $805, 000, I am working with Kentucky Food Safety Branch and the Kentucky Department of Agriculture to expand UK Cooperative Extension’s current FSMA-PSR related work by supporting the development of in-person and on-demand trainings, as well as multi-media educational materials that address food safety resource and knowledge gaps for Kentucky specialty crop producers.
  2. Co-PI for a $165,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture – National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) FSMA Outreach grant. USDA-NIFA has funded the integrated Cultivate Kentucky Partnership Expansion Proposal ($165,000 – Co-PI), a proposal that was written to expand food safety programs I conduct in Kentucky. This project supports the development of in-person and on-demand trainings, as well as multi-media educational materials that address food safety resource and knowledge gaps for Kentucky specialty crop producers. The objective is to develop and deliver a culturally appropriate FSMA and general on-farm food safety outreach, educational materials, trainings, and programing for plain community growers (i.e. Amish, Mennonites). I have developed and delivered a culturally appropriate FSMA and general on-farm food safety outreach, educational materials, trainings, and programing for plain community growers through six FSMA grower-training workshops, and three field days.
  3. Co-PI for a $1.15 million (UK’s portion – $48,000) proposal funded by the United States Department of Agriculture – National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) (USDA-NIFA-Food Safety Modernization (FSMA). This grant is to develop a national training, education, Extension, outreach, and technical assistance competitive grants program: regional center grants to enhance food safety. The overall goal of this proposal is to build a collaborative infrastructure in the southern U.S. to support FSMA-compliant food safety training, education, Extension, outreach, and technical assistance as it relates to the produce and processing industry. This step is critical to advance awareness, understand and implement FSMA-derived regulations amongst produce growers, packers, and processors. The Southern Center (SC) includes participation from land-grant universities in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

Additional/Unanticipated Trainer Impacts

PBPT Trainers who got insight into FSMA-PSR during their PDP training were interested in advancing their Knowledge in FSMA-PSR to help growers in the state. I (as PSA lead trainer for Kentucky) organized PSA Train-the-Trainer courses in Frankfort and Owensboro, KY in collaboration with PSA at Cornell University. The program reached 46 participants, including 17 regulators from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture (KDA) and Kentucky Department of Public Health Food Safety Branch (FSB), 11 Extension personnel from the University of Kentucky, two Extension personnel from Kentucky State University, one person from the Kentucky Horticulture Council, and one food science graduate student. The course fee for participants from University of Kentucky and regulators from KDA and FSB was covered by the FSMA-PSR Southern Center Grant received by the FSIC, as an ongoing partnership between the entities to form a network to educate the growers on FSMA-PSR. Before the training, there were only four PSA trainers in the state. After the two trainings, we now have a network of 34 trainers across the Kentucky to assist and train growers.

Additional/Unanticipated Grower Impacts

The FDA FSMA is a federal law transforming the nation’s 70-year-old food safety system. The “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption,”, aka “Produce Safety Rule (PSR),” establishes for the first time, science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption. The final rule went into effect January 26, 2016. The FSMA-PSR requires at least one supervisor or responsible party from the farm completes a food safety training at least equivalent to that received under standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the FDA conducted by qualified trainers. Through the SSARE funded PBPT program in Kentucky we were able to introduce growers to the new FSMA-PSR requirement. As a result 292 Kentucky growers successfully completed the advanced Produce Safety Alliance Grower training and fulfilled a mandatory federal requirement. We were able to offer this course at a significantky subsidised cost for growers through the Kentucky FSMA Implementation agreement grant in partnership with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, funded by the FDA. 

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.