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Kentucky Horticulture Council ( KHC) is a non-profit coalition of horticulture industry professional member organizations, including several produce grower groups. KHC leads projects related to key issues identified by the industry. Food safety and compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) are high priorities for fruit and vegetable growers in Kentucky.
 
KHC and its project collaborators are excited to be partnering with LFSC on an Agricultural Water project to provide efficient and accurate testing of irrigation and agriculture water samples for Kentucky's produce growers as well as food and water safety educational programs for growers and laboratory staff. Having access to laboratory water testing helps growers to develop baseline information to ensure compliance with FDA's FSMA rules and facilitates their access to new market opportunities by responding to consumers' food safety demands.  
 
KHC's Agricultural Water project includes a grower training component which aims to ensure accuracy in water sampling, skill development to interpret water test results, and increasing knowledge of strategies for corrective action in the event any water lab results exceed regulatory standards. The laboratory training component of this project will ensure accurate and timely analysis of samples and analytical staff understanding of testing agriculture water for food safety application.  
 
Having a convenient, affordable, reliable testing laboratory equipped to perform coliform detection in agriculture water samples is of high value to Kentucky's produce growers and can increase their farm revenue by enabling access to new market opportunities. Grower monitoring for microbial contamination will ensure production of a safe food supply for consumers.   
 
KHC is led by Cindy Finneseth, PhD, Executive Director. Project collaborators include Bryan Brady, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and the Environment Cultivate Kentucky Program; Shreya Patel and Avinash Tope, Kentucky State University Land Grant Program; Paul Vijayakumar, University of Kentucky, Food Science Innovation Center.
 
Tilth Alliance is on a mission to build an ecologically sound, economically viable, and socially equitable food system.   As part of the LFSC project, Tilth Alliance will host four Farm Walks in 2019, that will place an emphasis on food safety. Farm Walks are designed to transfer the hard-earned expertise of established farmers to the current and next generations of sustainable producers. Each Farm Walk features farmer-to-farmer education through a farm tour. Guest experts will also be present to share the most current research and resources on food safety. This format for sharing food safety information is accessible to growers and makes it easy to learn in a hands-on fashion.  
 
Tilth Alliance is committed to enabling the success of small farms. By providing crucial food safety education, we are helping to ensure that farmers have the knowledge they need to be compliant with food safety regulations, and to produce the healthiest, safest food possible. We look forward to collaborating with LFSC and sharing resources and information with producers in our region!
 
These educational efforts are led by Erin Murphy, Statewide Education Coordinator for Farm Programs, and Melissa Spear, Executive Director. 
In November 2018, the LFSC Steering Committee met in Washington, DC to evaluate progress on the LFSC project to date, as well as provide direction on upcoming project activities. 
 
The Steering Committee's is tasked with providing strategic guidance to ensure efficient and effective execution of LFSC's main objective: To assist local, organic, diversified, sustainable, and identity-preserved agricultural producers with FSMA compliance. Committee members represent a broad diversity of expertise with backgrounds in agriculture, academia and government, creating a robust network with direct access to growers across the nation.
 
Highlights include a presentation from the Deep South Food Alliance on their "Grower Liaison Model", a unique effort to conduct grower outreach and education through community assets, e.g. on-farm demonstration sites. Through this model, they have established best practices for working with minority growers in the southern region of the United States. The Committee also received a preliminary version of the National Young Farmers Coalition's produce safety training promotion video (view it below!) and updates on a produce safety guidebook that is forthcoming. 
 
Most notable, the Committee received preliminary outcomes of the nationwide local grower and processor needs assessment spear-headed by Cornell University. The needs assessment is composed of a survey that was distributed and listening sessions that were held throughout various regions of the United States. From July to December 2018, Cornell University focused on analyzing these large amounts of quantitative and qualitative data. After an initial review of these outcomes, the Steering Committee requested further analysis into several areas to better quantify emerging trends and potential means for conducting outreach and education with growers.
 
The full day meeting featured discussions on a variety of topics and LFSC's future activities, including: "Helping small processors or growers with FSMA's Preventive Controls for Human Food Rule" and "Supporting state departments of agriculture with education and outreach efforts and On-Farm Readiness Reviews". 
 
In total, 21 participants provided invaluable feedback to LFSC on its work to date and strategic guidance for furthering the LFSC mission.  
As part of work conducted with LFSC, the National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) released a video on the importance of Produce Safety. This video is a great tool to reach growers and features farmers' stories learning how the rules apply to them and how they are making simple changes on their farms to grow food more safely!
From the Farm : Heifer Ranch Talks Food Safety
National Farmers Union and the Local Food Safety Collaborative are working with family farmers across the country to help keep our food safe. In our "From the Farm" blog series, we're bringing you food safety stories, opinions and lessons learned from family farmers across the country!
 
Meet farmer Sean Pessarra who specializes in natural beekeeping and raw honey and honeycomb production as an Organic Farm Consultant for Heifer International - USA in Perryville, Arkansas. Heifer International is dedicated to promoting food security and nutrition across the world. Heifer Ranch offers activities and programs for folks to learn more about agriculture and how food is produced.
 
We asked Sean a few questions about how Heifer Ranch considers food safety in its daily operations...
Click here for continued reading

By Kira Zimmerman, National Farmers Union Intern  
FDA Updates & Resources  

  1. Findings: FDA released an overview of the continued investigation of the 2018 romaine lettuce outbreak.
  2. Compliance update: The largest farms will begin to have inspections this year and FDA has released information around the inspection process including the form that will be used during inspections and information around dispute mitigation and resolution.
  3. FDA Fact Sheet: "What to Expect of a Regulatory Inspection".
  4. FDA Voice: "Paving the Road to Produce Safety Rule Inspections".
  5. Constituent Update: Additional Resources Support Compliance with the Produce Safety Rule.
Do you need a PSA Grower Training or food safety workshop near you?
 
Do you need   some help finding FSMA or food safety resources?  
 
Would you like the Local Food Safety Collaborative  to speak at your conference?

Please complete LFSC's request form and we'll get back to you!
Register for PSA Grower Training 
There will be a Produce Safety Alliance Grower Training course offered in conjunction with National Farmers Union's 117th Annual Convention in Bellevue, Washington.
 
The full day course, held on March 1, is intended for fruit and vegetable growers and others interested in learning about produce safety, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule, and co-management of natural resources and food safety. The course also satisfies the FSMA Produce Safety Rule training requirement.
 
Learn more about the course and register here.

Upcoming Trainings, Workshops &
Conferences

LFSC works with a team of trainers, farmers and experts across the country to conduct outreach and bring educational opportunities that enhance fundamental food safety knowledge and help local producers and processors comply with applicable Food Safety Modernization Act regulations.
 
Bellevue, Washington
PSA Grower Training: 3/1
 
Moorhead, Minnesota
PSA Grower Training: 3/13
 
Colorado Springs, Colorado
PSA Grower Training: 3/15
 
Gainesville, Georgia
On-Farm Food Safety Workshop: 3/15  
   
Farmington, Minnesota
PSA Grower Training: 3/20
 
Charleston, South Carolina
Integrated PSA Grower Training AND *Optional* Train-the-Trainer Course: 3/21
More Information 
National Farmers Union's Beginning Farmer Institute (BFI) is a free training program for new producers of all ages and operation type/size. Participants attend three in-person learning sessions over the course of the year, one each in Washington, D.C., Northern California, and Savannah, Georgia. The sessions include farm tours as well as seminars on a variety of beginning farmers issues, such as business planning, USDA programs, and acquiring land. 
 
Applications for the 2019-2020 BFI cohort will be open until April 15. Learn more about the program and how to apply here.
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