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Expanding Farmer Education to Create a Culture of Food Safety in the Chesapeake Region


The long-term goal of this Community Outreach project, Expanding Farmer Education to Create a Culture of Food Safety in the Chesapeake Region, is to build a culture of food safety among specialty crop producers in the Chesapeake region through multi-level education and coaching centered on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR). It focuses on "very small" and "small" businesses as defined by FSMA.By educating producers about GAP and food safety risk reduction as foundational components of good farming and postharvest practices, the project seeks to change the predominate farmer mindset that food safety regulations and certification are optional and burdensome steps only necessary for to pass inspection or an audit. A culture of food safety means that most farmers understand that minimized risk and food quality are intertwined and that FSMA compliance or GAP certification are not only reasonable and attainable, but beneficial for farm operations. Helping farmers recognize the necessity of, and embrace the business case for, food safety will reduce fear, skepticism and/or dismissal of the topic, and encourage a positive culture around food safety. Integrated food safety risk assessment and protocols should be a lens through which farm infrastructure, personnel training, and operations are viewed, as a producer's business develops and expands.The project will advance this goal through three objectives:Build a culture of food safety by providing foundational education on good agricultural practices for 300 small and very small Chesapeake producers, with a focus on socially disadvantaged and/or beginner farmers;Enhance competitiveness and market reach of 30 very small and small specialty crop producers through advanced training to prepare them to comply with food safety laws and certifications, and enter wholesale markets; andPrepare four Food Safety Educators to provide on-farm, culturally appropriate coaching, tools and solutions to very small and small Chesapeake producers.

Ward, Tracy
Tulsa Economic Development Corporation
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