Consumers’ increasing desire to know where one’s food came from has led to more demand for local foods– a boon for small scale farmers. However, that opportunity is paired with farmers’ need to consider the additional production and financial risks of selling food directly to the public. As covered in the 2021 revision of the USDA Risk Management Checklist, Food Safety activities need to ensure compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Beyond FSMA Compliance, product liability insurance coverage (often missing from a standard Farm Owners or Business Owners policy) is needed to cover the medical care of customers, defense costs in a lawsuit, and any subsequent judgments of the court in the event of a food borne outbreak. In many cases, a proactive response to these risks is not “one size fits all” – but rather a set of unique actions that the farmer must take, precipitated by what is produced, the quantity sold, and the number of “hands” the product will pass through between farm and table. This presentation will provide the overview of a NE Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education funded project of the University of Scranton SBDC – in collaboration with Penn State Extension Food Safety and Quality Educators and a staff attorney from the Penn State Center for Agricultural and Shale Law. Participants will learn how in-person educational sessions, webinars and one-to-one consulting have been used to provide a clear path for farmers to address the risks as they seek the “rewards” of direct marketing local foods. Session participants will receive information about on-demand videos, sample decision tree tools, and a preparation guide for securing insurance coverage that they can use in their own communities to empower beginning (and seasoned) farmers to address the potential impacts of their own local food ventures for better mitigation of food safety risks.
|2023 Extension Risk Management Education National Conference