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Strengthening the National Good Agricultural Practices Program Through Expanded Collaboration, Research and Economic Modeling


<OL> <LI> To expand a currently funded USDA-CSREES project to reduce microbial risks in fruits and vegetables through good agricultural practices (GAPs) to 10 additional states; <LI> Develop spatial models to evaluate economic impact of implementing GAPs on the farm; <LI> This research and extension/outreach project builds on currently funded food safety initiative projects.

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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: In response to the increase in fruit and vegetable associated foodborne illnesses, the goal of this project is to develop three separate but integrated program components. This multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary research and extension/outreach project builds on currently funded food safety initiative projects and expands activities to include areas such as microbial risk reduction in the field and the economic impact of implementing GAPs on the farm.


APPROACH: <BR> 1. Collaborators in each of these ten important agricultural states will conduct a series of GAPs workshops, using already developed education materials, coordinated by Elizabeth Bihn and Robert Gravani of Cornell University;<BR> Functional spatial models will be developed for berry commodity by Suzanne Thornsbury of the University of Florida. <BR> Expansion activities will include areas such as microbial risk reduction in the field and economic impact of implementing GAPs on the farm.


PROGRESS: 2001/09 TO 2006/09<BR>
This project expanded the National Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Program by ten additional states and developed spatial models to determine the economic impact of GAPs implementation. The activities described below are not a comprehensive list of all projects that were successfully completed, but it describes many of the unique approaches collaborators took to reach audiences in their states and surrounding region to assist with the implementation of GAPs on the farm and in the packinghouse. Mary Donnell (Ohio collaborator) utilized her project to develop on-farm worker training programs and develop GAPs workshops in collaboration with Mid-American Ag and Hort Services that focused on crisis management. This need for crisis management training was the result of grower feedback at other GAPs workshops. Teryl Roper (Wisconsin collaborator) developed a GAPs Calendar to remind growers that food safety is something that affects them 365 days a year with each month highlighting a different GAPs implementation area. In addition, he presented 13 presentations to 1065 individuals over the course of his collaboration. Jill McKenzie and Michele Schermann (Minnesota collaborators) focused on fruit producers and Hmong growers. Ms. McKenzie created extension publications that discussed hand washing and the need to provide appropriate hygiene facilities in the field. Through working with Hmong growers, it was determined that translating written publications was not as desirable as translating the worker training video, so Fruits, Vegetables and Food Safety: Health and Hygiene on the Farm was translated into Hmong and distributed not only in Minnesota but to growers in California at the first ever Hmong Farmers Conference. Miriam Karlsson (Alaska collaborator) focused their program on direct markets such as farmers markets and u-pick operations as well as those farms that were completing third party audits from retailers such as Safeway and Fred Meyer. Mosbah Kushad, (Illinois collaborator) presented GAPs workshops at specialty crop conferences, regional schools, and vegetable and strawberry schools throughout the state of Illinois. Nancy Flores (New Mexico collaborator) distributed GAPs information through grower and farm market mailing lists, conducted presentations at specialty crop conferences and farm markets and worked with the Chile Task Force to develop food safety web links. Wes Kline (New Jersey collaborator) provided GAPs educational materials for school gardening groups and wrote an extension publication that included GAPs demonstrations and case studies to encourage hands-on learning. Alex Stone (Oregon collaborator) with Steve Scheuerell wrote a 29-page GAPs report about the benefits and risks of land-applying manure in food crop production. The focus on economic impact of GAPs implementation resulted in five publications, five presentations to 269 people, and two short course workshops. The economic model developed as part of this project allowed exogenous pressures to be applied so consumer and producer behaviors under different market scenarios could be better understood.
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IMPACT: 2001/09 TO 2006/09<BR>
By expanding the National GAPs Program by ten states, produce food safety is enhanced because expertise in regionally specific crops as well as regionally specific growing and postharvest handling practices is available to growers within each new state. The National GAPs Program has collaborated with twenty-five of the fifty states in the nation, but has received requests for collaboration from other states as well as a U.S. territory so this expansion is raising awareness in other states as well as in collaborating states. State collaborators have developed unique approaches to meeting the needs of their growers and farm workers. By developing a nation wide network of collaborators, duplication of projects is minimized and creative problem solving is maximized resulting in better service to constituents. Collaborating with agricultural economists has resulted in the development of an economic model to evaluate the market impact of GAPs implementation. This model addressed fresh market berry crops in North America and could be adapted to different cost conditions and entirely different commodities. Over the course of this project, it has become evident that there is a need for commodity specific GAPs in order to reduce microbial risks that are present during production and postharvest handling. As with commodity specific GAPs, each commodity will have specific market issues that need to be considered in order to understand the resulting economic impact.

Bihn, Elizabeth; Gravani, Robert
Cornell University
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