Harmonizing Organic Standards and Food Safety Metrics

Project Overview

EW16-015
Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2016: $74,970.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2018
Grant Recipient: Community Alliance with Family Farmers
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Dave Runsten
Community Alliance with Family Farmers

Annual Reports

Information Products

Commodities

  • Fruits: apples, apricots, avocados, berries (other), berries (blueberries), cherries, citrus, grapes, melons, olives, peaches, pears, plums, quinces, berries (strawberries)
  • Nuts: almonds, pistachios, walnuts
  • Vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucurbits, garlic, greens (leafy), leeks, onions, parsnips, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips, brussel sprouts
  • Additional Plants: herbs
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms

Practices

  • Animal Production: grazing management, manure management, preventive practices, grazing - rotational, watering systems
  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: composting

    Abstract:

    As the final rules for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) were being published, it had become apparent to organic certifying organizations that small organic producers were not prepared to implement food safety practices, that many of the “clean fields” practices that have been implemented by private industry are not compatible with organic requirements, and that neither Cooperative Extension nor the organic certifiers were prepared to advise farmers on the intersection between organic rules and food safety rules. For the past six years, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) has been operating a food safety outreach program in California for small family farms, including a number of organic farms, in collaboration with various Cooperative Extension (CE) specialists and farm advisors. CAFF has also partnered with Wild Farm Alliance (WFA) to produce several documents that discuss the intersection of food safety concerns with the management of domestic animals, wildlife and biodiversity on farms. Those circumstances led us to submit a proposal to WSARE and complete a project that included assembling food safety resources from across the country, synthesizing them and having them reviewed by food safety experts at UC Davis and Oregon State. We also created eight fact sheets and additional web site material. To share these new resources we held three webinars with the CCOF Foundation and three workshops for the staff and inspectors of all organic certifiers that operate in the Western SARE region, as well as for select Cooperative Extension farm advisors, especially the small farm advisors. The project was overseen by a committee of organic farmers composed of board members of CAFF and the CCOF Foundation. We completed all of our deliverables on time and received positive feedback from webinar and workshop attendees. 

    Project objectives:

    We have completed all of the objectives and sub-activities listed below. 

    Objective 1—Assemble materials on NOP rules and food safety metrics and points of conflict.

    October 2016 – March 2017

    • Find all relevant materials and research with assistance of university specialists (CAFF)
    • Choose specific issues of friction between organics and food safety for focus of workshops and webinars, such as compost, manure, water quality, land use, animal intrusion, wildlife habitat, and integration of domestic animals into crop production (CAFF, WFA, CE)
    • A pre-evaluation form will be sent to a number of potential participants in the training to understand some of the biggest challenges and questions they have with respect to food safety and also what types of questions or challenges they hear from small growers. This will be used to help prepare for the workshops and webinars in order to better align with what would be most beneficial to participants as well as understand the types of templates and resource material that are missing. 
    • Decide on content of publications and fact sheets (CAFF, WFA, NCAT)

     

    Objective 2—Prepare webinars and workshop curricula

    March 2017 – August 2017

    • Develop webinars (CAFF and WFA)
    • Develop workshops (CAFF, WFA)
    • Write or revise publications and fact sheets (CAFF, WFA, NCAT)
    • Conduct review of all materials with university specialists

     

    Objective 3—Hold workshops and webinars in California and Oregon on organics and food safety, training organic certification staff and contractors, as well as Cooperative Extension and other interested professionals.

    September 2017 – February 2018

    • Hold 3 webinars (CCOF) and 3 workshops (CCOF—2, Oregon Tilth—1)
    • Evaluate the understanding and applicability of the material as we proceed

     

    Objective 4—Further disseminate information by posting webinar on various web sites, distributing materials to interested organizations across the country, updating NOP tip sheets.

    March 2018 – August 2018

    • NCAT will seek to update the NOP tip sheets on issues related to food safety (such as use of compost and manures, and they will also post the materials on their web site and train their employees who answer the toll free ATTRA phone line.
    • Post webinar(s), publications, and fact sheets on CAFF, CCOF, WFA, NCAT, Oregon Tilth, and Extension web sites.
    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.