Traceability in Specialty Crop Production and Supply Chains: Distilling a Research and Extension Agenda

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2010: $33,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Southern
State: Texas
Principal Investigator:
Kathryn Boys
Virginia Tech
Kathryn Boys
Clemson University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: peanuts
  • Fruits: melons, apples, berries (other), berries (blueberries), cherries, grapes, peaches, plums, berries (strawberries)
  • Nuts: almonds, pecans
  • Vegetables: sweet potatoes, asparagus, beans, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cucurbits, garlic, greens (leafy), leeks, onions, peas (culinary), peppers, radishes (culinary), sweet corn, tomatoes, brussel sprouts
  • Additional Plants: herbs, ornamentals
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms


  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, focus group, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, community-supported agriculture, cooperatives, marketing management, farm-to-institution, market study, risk management
  • Sustainable Communities: public policy


    Despite significant public interest in “local” food procurement, logistic and food safety considerations and constraints limit the ability of small and medium scale (SMS) specialty crops producers to serve as direct suppliers to institutional foodservices (schools, hospitals etc.). General barriers to this marketing channel, and those specifically related to proposed traceability requirements, were explored. Recommendations regarding implementing traceability programs both in SMS diversified specialty crops operations, and institutional foodservice operations, were collected and refined. In addition, several important recommendations for future research and extension initiatives were identified; these will be pursued through future initiatives.

    Project objectives:

    The objectives of this study are:
    1. To examine and document the relevant issues, research questions and extension needs of small-medium scale (SMS) specialty crop producers with regard to traceability practices;
    2. To examine and document the relevant issues, research questions and information needs of institutional food purchasers to document traceability throughout food-service;
    3. To assess the extent to which there exist similarities and/or conflict between the traceability information and logistic needs of small-medium scale producers, and institutional food providers;
    4. To collect, document, and integrate suggestions regarding best-practices for traceability in the operations of small-medium scale specialty crop producers and institutional food services.

    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.