Developing Extension Competence in Good Agricultural Practices and Farm Food Safety Planning for Fruit and Vegetable Growers in Kansas and Missouri

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2009: $46,614.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Project Coordinator:
Jeffrey Callaway
Kansas State University
Dr. Cary Rivard
Kansas State University

Annual Reports

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: extension, workshop

    Proposal abstract:

    Food safety risks have been much in the news lately, and have frequently been associated with the large-scale "industrial" food system. Concerns about these risks have contributed in part to rising demand for locally grown fruits and vegetables. However, decentralizing production does not eliminate risks of food borne illnesses from local farms, though it would tend to reduce the scope of such outbreaks and facilitate tracing back to the source of problems. Increasingly wholesale and institutional buyers require that producers have food safety plans in place in order to limit the potential for outbreaks of food borne illness and to limit their liability in case of an outbreak. Having such plans, verified by third party audits can reduce risks of outbreaks of food borne illness, reduce producer liability in the event of outbreaks, increase access to markets and improve the overall safety of the food system. By training a group of extension educators who work with fruit and vegetable producers, the project will have significant benefits for producers over the long term.

    The immediate audience for this project is agricultural professionals (primarily extensionists, Department of Agriculture personnel and grower educators with non-profit organizations) in Kansas and Missouri who producers turn to for information and assistance as they attempt to develop and implement farm food safety plans. Knowledge of how to develop and certify farm food safety plans is limited among both agricultural professional and producers in our region, but resources and programs, including USDA AMS GAPs certification and other certification systems exist along with a wealth of educational materials to assist producers to adopt GAPs. Resources and approaches for assisting technology-limited Amish and Old Order Mennonite producers are somewhat less readily available, and will receive attention under this project so that our agricultural professionals can serve the needs of this important and growing group of vegetable producers. Professionals educated under this project will gain competence and confidence and will serve as valuable resources both for serving producers and for educating other agricultural professionals in Kansas, Missouri and the region. Letters presented in the last section of this proposal attest to the enthusiasm/need for this project and to their commitment to participate enthusiastically in this effort. These include letters from University of Missouri Extension agents, Kansas State University Extension agents, the Kansas and Missouri Departments of Agriculture and the Kansas Rural Center and the Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Agricultural professionals (extension educators, grower educators, Department of Agriculture professionals) in Kansas and Missouri knowledgeable about farm food safety planning and certification procedures and assisting producers to achieve Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices (GAPs/GHPs) certification in order to meet requirements of wholesale markets. Strengthened, safer local food systems as a result of expanding access to markets and increased adoption of farm food safety practices.

    Short term outcomes will be new knowledge by all 28 trainees under the project of farm food safety requirements and resources for certification and the capacity to assist producers, including those with limited access to technology, to develop and implement GAP/GHP plans, as well as to train others in this area.

    Medium term outcomes will be come about as a result of the project participants continuing their education by gaining practical experience (in a partnered/mentored fashion) assisting producers to develop and implement farm food safety plans for GAPs certification (20 professionals over the course of the project will assist 60 producers to do this). Additionally at least 14 professionals will conduct at least one training activity or workshop to train additional trainers and producers in farm food safety practices. Additional outcomes will be increasing access (or at least continued access to markets, as wholesalers become more demanding of certification) for regional producers as a result of this project and follow up activities. A further outcome will be increasing professional and producer awareness of GAPs, even by those not seeking certification as a result of producer interactions with knowledgeable professionals with skills gained under this project.

    Long term outcomes will be stronger, safer local and regional food systems in Kansas, Missouri and the broader region (as professionals and producers disseminate knowledge through their networks). Producers will increase access to markets and as a result, larger proportions of vegetable and fruit production will be supplied locally. Local food systems will continue to be regarded as safe through the widespread adoption of GAPs by local producers. The project will contribute to SARE long term outcomes of profitable, environmentally friendly agriculture and an improved quality of life for producers and society as a whole.

    Outcomes will be measured over the course of the project in various ways. Trainee knowledge will be measured through pre and post-testing as part of on-line training and workshops. Assessment of follow up training and outcomes will be conducted through ongoing (at least thrice yearly) consultation with trainees to ensure development and implementation of plans and to ensure that they are gaining confidence and receiving necessary support/mentorship. Outcomes will be assessed through the measurement of specific outputs such as farm plans developed and certified or numbers of training activities conducted. Outcomes will obviously continue to evaluated beyond the two-year life of this project, which will lay the ground work for agricultural professionals in our region to respond to anticipated growing demand for farm food safety training in the future.

    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.