The Local Food Safety Collaborative is a collaboration between National Farmers Union Foundation and the Food and Drug Administration to provide training, education, and outreach to local producers and processors to enhance the fundamental knowledge of food safety, and to help these local producers and processors comply with applicable Food Safety Modernization Act regulations.
Mission of the LFSC
To provide outreach, education, and training to small local food producers and processors on the Produce Safety and Preventive Controls rules of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
The Local Food Safety Collaborative is a three year project funded by a cooperative agreement with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). National Farmers Union Foundation is the lead organization for this work and we are partnered with: Cornell University, Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA), National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC), Deep South Food Alliance (DSFA), and New England Farmers Union (NEFU). These partners allow our collaborative to utilize a nationwide advocacy and educational network, while teaming with local organizations that work directly with local producers and processors.
Our goal is to provide outreach, education, and training to small local food producers and processors. We will particularly focus on organic, sustainable, value-added, and diversified farmers and processors. The Local Food Safety Collaborative will place particular emphasis on identifying and better understanding the unique needs of the sector in attaining compliance
Main Undertakings of Project
In year one LFSC will conduct a needs assessment to better understand the specific needs of small local producers and processors for FSMA education, outreach, and technical assistance, ensuring an evidence-based approach. This assessment will include a survey of growers, small-scale processors, food hubs, and cooperatives to identify current understanding of FSMA, existing resources, and what barriers to compliance exist. We will then conduct listening sessions in each region of the country (Northeast, Southern, Western, and North Central) to validate and clarify the survey results. The assessment will also include an analysis of the top 20% of local food production markets in terms of commercial production for products covered under the Produce Safety Rule, as well as the top 20% of food products subject to the preventive controls for Human Foods Rule that are produced commercially for local markets.
Outreach and Education
Throughout all three years of the project LFSC intends to perform outreach at conferences and conventions where small local processors and producers will be to inform them about FSMA and the applicable produce safety and preventive controls rules. This outreach will help producers understand what FSMA is, how it will affect them, and what they need to do to be compliant. LFSC intends to develop new (and/or modify existing) FSMA educational materials to target local producer and processor needs to be used with the PSA and FSPCA trainings. These educational materials will include the development of a FSMA guidebook with standardized basic information and resources for local producers. It is anticipated that the development of education materials will be focused towards the end of year one and beginning of year two of the project.
LFSC intends to provide low cost PSA and FSPCA trainings for small local producers and processors over all three years of the project. In order to host more of these trainings locally, LFSC is organizing for multiple Lead Trainers to be certified with project funds in each region of the country. Trainings will be hosted in coordination with the regional collaboration centers and other local producer and processor organizations. Depending on the results of the Needs Assessment in years two and three, LFSC may also provide workshops that address smaller sections of the curriculum for small producers who are exempt from FSMA.
Grower Liaison Model
The Grower Liaison Model being conducted by DSFA will provide specialized and on-farm assistance to minority and socially disadvantaged producers and processors in Alabama and Mississippi. In these target areas, access to the internet is inconsistent and many of the producers lack some of the basic infrastructure necessary to improve food safety and quality. The use of farm-level demonstrations becomes even more important in these areas. In year one, DSFA will coordinate and lead roundtable discussions concerning the needs of minority groups in these areas, as well as perform outreach on FSMA. Based on information gathered from outreach in year one, DSFA will develop and conduct on-farm approaches that demonstrate how to meet the requirements of FSMA using innovative and low-cost methods in years two and three. Hands-on workshops and demonstrations will be key to this portion of work. Successful deployment of this model will serve as a pilot project for additional regions.
LFSC will develop a national framework for communication regarding FSMA resources between all relevant stakeholders. Through our outreach, partner network, and needs assessment we hope to identify educational resources that can be housed on this website. The website will host resources, publicize trainings, and host a national/regional directory of groups associated with FSMA, producers, and processors. In this project we hope to serve as a link between the various FSMA stakeholders and local producers and processors. All those who wish to stay abreast of FSMA updates will be able to sign up for regular updates through the LFSC website.
The steering committee for the Local Food Safety Collaborative is to provide strategic guidance to ensure that execution and delivery of the project meets the needs of local, organic, diversified, sustainable, and identity-preserved agriculture for compliance with FSMA requirements.
In order to achieve our mission, our steering committee membership is made up of members that bring connections with our targeted stakeholders as well as a breadth of knowledge and experience that can inform the efforts of the project. Members will also provide evaluation and assessment of performance in accordance with the project goals. The function of the steering committee is to determine project priorities, identify areas for collaboration, and ensure that critical details or stakeholders are not overlooked.
The oversight committee for the Local Food Safety Collaborative is to serve as a check for the project, ensuring compliance and that the goals of the cooperative agreement are being met.
The oversight committee will provide oversight and guidance to the project. Each quarter the project will provide an update to the oversight committee on activities and progress to date. The oversight committee will review these activities, providing feedback and evaluation to help direct the project’s future activities. Specifically, the cooperative agreement calls for: conducting a needs assessment for training, education, and technical assistance; developing an outreach plan for local producers that includes workshops, trainings, and a grower liaison model; creating educational materials to supplement existing curricula; developing a national framework for communication with collaborators and local food producers; and program evaluation.