On-farm food safety trainings for community supported agriculture, on-farm markets, and agritourism operations

Project Overview

ONE17-295
Project Type: Partnership
Funds awarded in 2017: $14,974.00
Projected End Date: 04/15/2019
Grant Recipient: University of Maryland, Dept. of Agricultural and Resource Economics
Region: Northeast
State: Maryland
Project Leader:
Paul Goeringer
Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, College of Ag and Natural Resources, University of Maryland

Information Products

Commodities

  • Fruits: apples, berries (strawberries), melons
  • Vegetables: asparagus, carrots, celery, eggplant, greens (leafy), greens (lettuces), onions, radishes (culinary), sweet corn, sweet potatoes, tomatoes

Practices

  • Crop Production: food product quality/safety
  • Education and Training: extension, networking, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: community-supported agriculture, risk management, value added
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems

    Proposal abstract:

    All farmers have a shared goal: to produce safe and nutritious food. Despite best efforts, however, foodborne
    illness outbreaks happen and when they do, they can be devastating for the entire agricultural community. With
    the recent finalization of the Food Safety Modernization Act, the focus of food safety planning for farmers has
    transitioned from reactive to preventive. This means that farmers have both a moral and legal obligation to adopt
    comprehensive preventive food safety programs. Given budgetary and personnel constraints, however, food
    safety trainings are not offered regularly, can be ineffectively broad in scope, and often do not include crucial
    operation-specific details.

    This project proposes bringing experts from the Agriculture Law Education Initiative (ALEI), the Maryland
    Department of Agriculture, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Agriculture Law
    Education Initiative, and the University of Maryland, College Park and Extension together to create specialized
    food safety curriculum tailored to three different types of farm-based food businesses: Community Supported
    Agriculture, On-Farm Markets, and Agritourism. These materials will be presented at on-farm trainings (during
    winter 2017) which will maximize the ability of the presenters to provide operation-specific information and give
    Maryland farmers the opportunity to get questions answered for their particular operations. Following the
    trainings, the materials will be disseminated via the ALEI website and through recorded webinars. The goal is to
    equip farmers with the knowledge they need to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks, reduce health risks and
    thereby improve the quality of life of Maryland’s agricultural community.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The goal of the project is to improve the quality of life for Maryland’s farmers by reducing the likelihood of
    foodborne illness outbreaks associated with agriculture. The project will create operation-specific food safety
    training materials that will be presented to Maryland farmers in the best possible setting: on the farm itself. An
    operation’s best defense against being the cause of a foodborne illness outbreak is having both a food safety plan
    customized to their operation and having staff trained and prepared to implement the plan’s procedures. This
    advance preparation is also a legal requirement for farmers subject to FSMA.

    To accomplish this goal, the project will bring Maryland’s food safety experts onto the farm to provide farmers and
    their staff with food safety education customized for their specific operation (Community Supported Agriculture,
    On-Farm Market, or Agritourism). Having the experts on-site will allow farm operators and their staff to get
    answers tailored to their specific operations. The objective is to determine if providing Maryland farmers with
    customized on-farm food safety trainings will improve food safety planning and compliance with the FSMA
    Produce Safety Rule, and reduce the likelihood of foodborne illness outbreaks.

    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.