Due to recent outbreaks of foodborne illnesses, consumers are concerned about food safety, and an increasing number of wholesale and institutional buyers are requiring growers to have GAPs certification, which focuses on reducing microbial risks to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Cary Rivard and Jeffrey Callaway developed a program to train agricultural professionals, including Extension agents, Department of Agriculture personnel, and other agricultural educators, in Kansas and Missouri on how to help fruit and vegetable growers develop and implement farm food safety plans and obtain GAPs certification.
In 2010, 19 agricultural professionals attended GAPs and food safety training in Owensville, Missouri. Of those, 15 were selected to participate in the national GAPs Online Food Safety Training program. A follow-up survey conducted 15 months later found that respondents were better able to answer questions and had assisted 116 producers, new ideas had been incorporated into programming and used in at least 40 programs, eight special programs had been developed, and participants had written at least three newspaper columns and contributed to one radio talk show on the topic of food safety.
In 2011, 20 horticulture/agriculture Extension agents from Kansas, eight Kansas State University faculty/staff, and two educators from nongovernmental organizations attended a food safety workshop in Olathe, Kansas.
In 2012, the agricultural professionals used their training to help over 120 growers increase their knowledge of food safety and GAPs. As a result, at least two attendees achieved certification.
Rivard and Callaway added Tier 2 GAPs training in 2013 with the goal of providing agricultural professionals with advanced technical knowledge on water testing and other practices that can be barriers to implementing GAPs.
View Marlin Bates's presentation on this project, from the 2012 Farmers Forum, through NCR-SARE's YouTube playlist. Visit www.youtube.com/NCRSAREvideo for this and other videos.
Want more information? See the related SARE grant: