USDA Invests in FamilyFarmed.org to Train More Than 2500 Fruit and Vegetable Growers Nationally in Best Practices in Food Safety, Packing and Postharvest Handling
Funding Will Also Create Spanish Language Food Safety Program
FamilyFarmed.org is pleased to announce that the Risk Management Agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has funded FamilyFarmed.org to expand its farmer training programs in 2013. With these agreements, FamilyFarmed.org will work with local partners to produce twenty-five trainings for small to mid-size growers and teach them best practices in food safety, postharvest handling, and packing produce. More than two thousand five hundred fruit and vegetable farmers from across the country are expected to participate.
“Despite the challenges and setbacks due to extreme weather felt in many parts of the country this year, American agriculture is experiencing its strongest period in history thanks to the dedication and resilience of our farmers and ranchers,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Our responsibility at USDA is to sustain and nurture these hard-won gains for all producers. For small and beginning farmers, in particular, risk management often means understanding direct marketing, or food safety standards, or designing tools to meet the scale of their operation and the markets that they serve. Overall, these agreements will provide tools and knowledge for underserved, small, and limited-resource producers to succeed.”
The trainings will take place in fourteen states and provide each grower with a free copy of the third edition of the Wholesale Success: A Farmers Guide to Food Safety, Postharvest Handling, Packing and Selling Produce manual, edited by FamilyFarmed.org President Jim Slama and farmer Atina Diffley. The recently revised, 312 page book is the definitive training source on selling into wholesale markets. It includes topics such as: Calculating Return on Investment; Cleaning, Drying, and Curing Produce; Traceability; Packing Shed Design; and Maintaining the Cold Chain. Wholesale Success builds the capacity of farmers to meet the burgeoning demand for locally/regionally grown fruits and vegetables. Adopting best practices in food safety, postharvest handling, packing, and business management will help farmers be more efficient and profitable. It will also give buyers an incentive to increase their purchases of locally grown food.
“FamilyFarmed.org is grateful for USDA support,” says Jim Slama. “They are a tremendous partner for us and countless other organizations that are working to create new opportunities for family farmers and regional economic development. These grants will help thousands of new farmers tap into the strong demand for local food and ensure that their products meet the standards of wholesale buyers for quality and food safety.” The grants total $605,810 and are to be used over the next year.
FamilyFarmed.org will also use the funding to translate its online food safety tool (www.onfarmfoodsafety.org) into Spanish. The program’s Technical Advisory Committee was chaired by the head of food safety of Earthbound Farm and includes representatives of the FDA and USDA; leading food safety experts; large wholesale buyers such as Chipotle and SYSCO; and advocates for small farmers. The new program will give Spanish-speaking farmers the ability to create a customized food safety plan and then get food safety certified. The program will culminate with a bilingual food safety training in New York co-produced with Grow NYC/Greenmarket, the nations largest operator of farmers markets. “Providing access to wholesale markets through Greenmarket Co., our wholesale distribution program, is one of the many ways in which Grow NYC/Greenmarket supports family farms,” said Marcel Van Ooyen, Grow NYC’s Executive Director. “With this strong support from the USDA, and the expertise of our partners at FamilyFarmed.org, we can help Greenmarket farmers adopt and quantify best practices in food safety—skills that more and more wholesale buyers are demanding.”
For more information on the programs, to purchase the third edition of the Wholesale Success manual, or to find out more about partnering on trainings for your farm community visit: www.wholesalesuccess.org or call 708-763-9920.