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Defining and Overcoming Economic Factors Hindering Adoption of Food Safety Practices by Small & Medium Sized Farms in The New England Region


<p>The goal of this program is to increase produce growers' food safety knowledge and design supports for adopting scale-appropriate Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) that will reduce the overall risk of foodborne illness and increase access to local and regional wholesale markets. Our long-term project goal is to increase the number of fresh produce growers adopting on-farm produce safety practices in order to improve the economic viability of small and medium-size farms in New England. Expanding produce safety curriculum to exempt growers will enhance or maintain market access for small and medium-sized New England farms. These results may be adapted to enhance the development of local food systems in other regions.</p>Supporting Objectives: This integrated project has the following four objectives, with three applied research objectives supporting a central<p> Extension objective:1. Assess farmer perceptions and beliefs about the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) food safety practices and determine sufficient economic incentives to adopt them, and measure and verify benchmarks for on-farm costs of meeting PSA food safety procedures.</p><p>2. Model how the above strategies can increase local markets for produce growers by measuring consumer perceptions, beliefs and willingness to pay for food safety attributes and create marketing materials based on results.</p><p>3. Measure the economic impact of a potential increase in the regional provision of produce resulting from farmers who decide to scale-up rather than remain small as a way of avoiding FSMA regulation.</p><p>4. Adapt the delivery of PSA curricula by developing audience-appropriate food safety training that addresses farmer learning and information needs that includes implementation costs (Objective 1), consumer demand for food safety attributes (Objective 2), and regional market impact information (Objective 3). Pilot the revised delivery of PSA curricula and collect farmer feedback.

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We will partner with farmers using a participatory framework for the following objectives:1) Using a mental models framework, surveys and interviews will assess farmer perceptions and beliefs about PSA practices and adoption incentives, and establish compliance-costs verified using farmer focus groups;2) Use consumer survey results to measure perceptions and willingness-to-pay for food safety attributes and model the potential increase in local produce markets, and develop marketing materials based on results;3) Use IMPLAN economic analysis software to measure the potential impact of reducing barriers to food safety compliance that will result in increased regional production from exempt farms that improve the economic viability of small and medium-size farms in New England;4) Use Adult Learning Principles to adapt and test audience-appropriate methods for curricula delivery including costs, and market impact information.

Patker, J.
University of Vermont
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