Facilitating Food Safety for Small, Sustainable Farms

2017 Annual Report for EW16-018

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2016: $55,000.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2018
Grant Recipient: ALBA
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Co-Investigators:

Facilitating Food Safety for Small, Sustainable Farms

Summary

In 2016, the grunt work necessary to provide outreach and education more efficiently was completed. This entailed updating food safety plan templates and quality management systems into user-friendly websites and surveying partners for outreach content needs.

Objectives/Performance Targets

1) Objective 1.-Research- Document ALBA’s experience with assisting farmers with both GAP And GroupGAP to help guide partners’ strategy in addressing farmer food safety. For both Objectives 1 and 2, In November 2016, ALBA’s Certification and Compliance Manager presented at the National Incubator Farm Training Institute alongside the USDA GroupGap Representative to representatives of over 60 farm incubators. The presentation will be made into a written case study and put on ALBA’s website.

2) Objective 2- Education of professionals working with farmers relating to adoption of Group GAP and produce marketers on adoption of GroupGAP ALBA has provided technical assistance to the California Center for Cooperative Development who works with a number of farmer cooperatives that are pursuing GroupGAP certification. Additionally, ALBA has been surveying (see activities below) organizations in order to find what trainings best suite their needs.

3) Objective 3-Outreach to over 100 organizations on GroupGAP through webinars and posting of resources on ALBA website. This is a deliverable that will be carried out in 2017.

Accomplishments/Milestones

Update ALBA Quality Management System (QMS) document– a renovation update was completed in in July 2016. As the QMS is a live document, changes and updates are made, as necessary at different times of the year. The biggest update was to change the complete layout from a Microsoft Word document to a Google Site. The new site can be viewed here : https://sites.google.com/site/albaqms/ 

Training of ALBA Staff in using the QMS – completed in August 2016  Updated farmer training curriculum to incorporate food safety topics- Completed for 2016. Will be done again in 2017 to provide better correlation and explanation of the Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training, the only currently available. FDA approved training that meets federal FSMA requirements. We have also turned ALBA’s student enterprise 1 acres demo field into a food safety demonstrating field for small farmers. This has entailed providing examples of storage sheds, labeling, color coding, having appropriate signs in place in addition to a small wash area. The idea is to demonstrate cost-effective solutions minimize risk to food safety that a small farmer can adopt. We have had a tour from Hartnell Community College to the demo field. Throughout this year, we will have other food safety field days and trainings to small farmers and farmer training organizations. 

A matrix outlining criteria to guide organizations’ decision making around adopting GroupGAP.

• Survey performed in November 2016. This is a link to the survey results.

•In short, the survey was a baseline needs assessment : Respondents location by state: CA, HI, MT, WA o Majority of respondents were from non-profit organizations, with 1 each private and university respondent;

o Potential number of farmers that would benefit from 9 respondents questions= minimum of 360 (this is only taking the minimum value of the answer choices) although we know that two organizations work with closer to 1,000 farmer each;

o We found the need to help provide resources and training on working with farmers to develop food safety plans and programs for their farm;

o Many of the farmers that the organizations represented are not exempted from the FDA’s Produce Safety Rule, but might meet qualified exemptions; therefore, the organizations would like to receive training on FDA Produce Safety Rule as many did not feel very familiar with teaching the rule;

o From survey Reponses, we will be developing trainings around most of the following themes: Farmer trainings and best practices, Food Safety Plan Development and SSOP’s, Produce Safety Rule and USDA NOP side by side, Equipment Sanitation, Is GroupGAP right for you, and QMS development. Trainings will be delivered in 2017.

A case study on ALBA’s experience with food safety, adoption of GroupGAP and lessons learned: The case study was presented in November at the National Incubator Farm Training Institute’s annual conference. It currently exists in a PowerPoint presentation and will be turned into a report prior to the end of the grant. PowerPoint attached. Food safety for farm incubators

Recommendations on USDA GroupGAP User’s Guide-COMPLETED April 2016 As one of the original pilotees of the project, ALBA participated in workshops and provided commentary related USDA GroupGAP User’s Guide development prior to printing.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Partner Outcomes in 2016 At least 60 organizations and at least 70 ag professionals gained information and awareness on food safety compliance strategies via conference participation and ALBA to peer organization’s technical assistance. At least 700 farmer clients of these organizations are could are potential beneficiaries.