By Cara Fraver, Business Services Director, and Maggie Kaiser, Produce Safety Coordinator, National Young Farmers Coalition
What: We wrote a guidebook! The National Young Farmers Coalition, as a member of the Local Food Safety Collaborative, has written a produce safety guidebook geared toward small producers that we’re calling A Small Farmer’s Practical Guide to Food Safety. This guidebook is accompanied by an online resource library filled with the resources that we hope will be useful to smaller, diversified farmers.
The guidebook and accompanying online resource library are not exhaustive instructions on how to legally comply with FSMA’s Produce Safety Rule, but are meant to equip growers with the basics to improve food safety on their farm: training agendas, template standard operating procedures (SOPs), specific options for wildlife management, suggestions for how to set up a washing station, and much more. We encourage growers of all sizes to attend a food safety training, not only to learn the contents of the Produce Safety Rule, but to also knock out one of the requirements early while the trainings are heavily subsidized. But you don’t have to have attended any trainings to get something from this book (we hope!).
Why: After spending eight hours learning about the ins and outs of the Food Safety Modernization Act and the Produce Safety Rule in our workshops, many farmers asked, “Okay, now how do I put this into action on my farm?!” Our guidebook and resource library are meant to answer that very question.
Who: This guidebook is intended for small-scale, direct marketing non-sprout produce farmers who mostly sell locally and want to improve their produce safety practices. Because this is a group of growers that is often not covered by or considered “qualified exempt” from the Produce Safety Rule, they were struggling to find applicable and clear resources geared toward their farms. We wanted to make sure they had the information and tools for interpreting the Produce Safety Rule and implementing changes on their operations. We sought out examples from similarly sized farms and hope that, above all, this guidebook will make produce safety seem a little less scary and a little easier. While some of these small farmers may be in the process of scaling up, others are simply very focused on growing the healthiest food possible for their communities.
Where: This guidebook is the result trainings, workshops, conferences, farm visits, emails, webinars, phone calls, and interactions with farmers from all across the country that are really interested in improving produce safety practices on their farms. It is farmer-reviewed and inspired by the questions asked by real life farmers. Because the Coalition is a farmer-led, chapter-based organization, with 45 chapters in 29 states, farmers have really made this project what it is!
When: This guidebook is the result of almost three years of doing produce safety work with farmers. It took WAY longer than we expected, and sometimes we didn’t know if it would ever be completed. But what better way to ring in 2020 than with some produce safety literature!!