NFU: Time, Money, Infrastructure to Comply with Food Safety Requirements Among Top Concerns for Produce Growers
Financial and Technical Assistance Could Help Farmers Implement Best Practices
WASHINGTON – Although local food producers are broadly committed to food safety on their operations, there are still some barriers to implementing food safety best practices, according to a Needs Assessment Report released today by National Farmers Union Foundation’s Local Food Safety Collaborative (LFSC) and Cornell University.
The publication is the result of a multi-year, two-tiered effort. It includes findings from a Needs Assessment Survey, which was designed to determine the food safety practices, knowledge, attitudes, barriers, and needs of local producers, with a particular focus on food processors and fruit and vegetable growers. Following the completion of the survey, LFSC and Cornell University organized a series of listening sessions across the country, during which small groups of local food producers had the opportunity to discuss the aforementioned issues in greater detail. The combined results will inform the organizations’ Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) educational outreach in the future.
In general, participants expressed an interest in improving food safety practices on their farms or facilities but perceived many barriers that may prevent them from doing so. Financial resources were the top concern, followed by time and farm infrastructure. More than half of respondents reported that these barriers were either moderately or greatly limiting to their farming operations. Other concerns include the need for skilled labor, technical assistance, appropriate supplies and equipment, and knowledge and information.
More specifically, participants expressed the need for greater assistance with the following:
- Food safety audits – seven out of ten participants had not received or were unsure if they had received a third-party audit.
- Worker training – four out of ten participants reported that food safety training provided to workers was not applicable to their individual operations.
- Water testing.
National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.