; Educating Farmers to Manage Heightened Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Risks | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Educating Farmers to Manage Heightened Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Risks

Winifred McGee


From inception, FSMA has increased food safety scrutiny to reduce food-borne illness. Although impacting the entire food chain (increasing marketing, legal, and production risk), FSMA has particularly affected beginning and resource-stressed farmers who add value to direct market. Required produce protocols, HACCP, and proactive recall plans result in increased labor, equipment, and training costs, so there is the urge on the part of producers to hold off (or ignore) compliance. When the smallest businesses were required to comply with the FSMA Preventive Controls for Human Foods (2018) the adoption rate was low. The University of Scranton SBDC received a NE SARE grant in 2020 to assist producers in growing their businesses to address the risks and comply with FSMA, with an ultimate goal of increased revenues. The pandemic caused great changes in how educational programs are delivered; venues were hesitant to permit gatherings, and farmers liked in-home convenience. For project (and participant) success, the SBDC team pivoted – replacing group sessions with individualized contact and self-paced virtual materials (enhanced tip sheets and on demand webinar recordings). Train-the-trainers enabled consultants to empower existing and potential food processors to operate legal, market-ready, and profitable enterprises. This presentation will share the strategies and tools that were successfully used to reorient the SARE project for post-pandemic audiences – resulting in 158 participants, 92 making a go-no go decision, and 71 expanding or creating a value-added, compliant enterprise. Strategies and self-guided tools will be shared during the session, equipping attendees to duplicate this process in their communities.