To help growers and food safety professionals achieve all of these important goals, UC Cooperative Extension has launched a free online course.
“Actions that farmers take to protect food safety may affect natural resources, and conservation practices may affect food safety,” said Mary Bianchi, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties, who oversaw design of the course.
The intent of the training is to demonstrate that communication between food safety professionals and growers can help to achieve a balance between food safety and sustainability.
“Our co-management course will help food safety professionals better evaluate the risk of conservation practices,” said Bianchi.
“For example, cover crops attract beneficial insects, help control soil erosion and improve soil quality, but they may attract wildlife,” she said. “In the course, we demonstrate frank conversations between food safety auditors and growers about strategies for minimizing the potential risks of crops being contaminated by animal feces. Growers can often provide existing examples, such as monitoring programs or temporary fencing that excludes wild and domestic animals from produce fields.”
The course also provides growers with tools to evaluate their strategies for managing food safety and sustainability.
“After the training, growers and auditors will be better prepared to engage in realistic and frank discussions of co-management strategies used in crop production,” Bianchi said.
The free online co-management course and related resources are online at http://cesanluisobispo.ucanr.edu/Co-management_of_Food_Safety_and_Sustainability.
This project was funded by a $39,650 grant from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.
A video describing co-management practices from farm to fork can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IoQ-8OEuc4&feature=youtu.be.
The University of California Global Food Initiative aims to put the world on a path to sustainably and nutritiously feed itself. By building on existing efforts and creating new collaborations among UC's 10 campuses, affiliated national laboratories and the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the initiative will develop and export solutions for food security, health and sustainability throughout California, the United States and the world.
Growers, conservationists, food safety professionals discuss food safety, water quality
To help farmers and growers efficiently achieve the best results, the University of California Cooperative Extension, in collaboration with the Farm Food Safety and Conservation Network brought together 80 people on Aug. 21 for the sixth annual Food Safety and Water Quality Co-management Forum in Watsonville.
"The Farm, Food Safety & Conservation Network is leading the way in co-management of California's agricultural resources,” said Craig McNamara, president of the California Board of Food and Agriculture. “Their recent forum on food safety and water quality brought together the best and the brightest from the Central Coast region to discuss these important issues."
McNamara, who was the keynote speaker, provided his perspective on broadening the view of food safety to include managing agriculture within the context of sustainable agriculture, ecosystem conservation and food insecurity. He also related the discussion of co-management to California’s Ag Vision 2030, a stakeholder-driven process of setting priorities for the future of California agriculture.
Forum participants heard the latest information on designing on-farm practices that might create co-management solutions for nutrients, pesticides and pathogens in the production environment. They also engaged in frank discussion of co-management challenges and solutions at all levels of the supply chain, from large company policies to field-level practices of individual growers.
“Research results show us that we do know quite a bit’ explained Mary Bianchi, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. “The question now is how do we put that knowledge into action? How can we move towards design and management of on-the-ground management practices and policy programs that reflect our evolving understanding?”
The forum concentrated on the types of practices and policy programs that may help, and discussed strategies, both field-based and policy-driven, that might support progress in addressing persistent resource concerns relevant to agricultural production.
“The forum presents a great opportunity for anyone interested in learning about the key co-management issues on the Central Coast and is a great way to network with experts in the field,” said Afreen Malik, Ocean Mist Farms manager of Food Safety and Environmental Stewardship.
Scientists led a discussion on the fate and transport of nutrients, pesticides, and pathogens and how science can be applied to design practices for co-management decisions in the field. The scientific panel included Tim Hartz, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis; Rob Atwill, UCCE specialist in the School of Veterinary Medicine and director of the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security; and Brian Anderson, UC Davis specialist based at the Marine Pollution Studies Laboratory at Granite Canyon.
A panel of industry leaders discussed how policy changes and decision-support tools could support sound co-management. The panel included Ken Harris, executive officer of the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board; Asif Maan, branch chief of CDFA Feed, Fertilizer, and Livestock Drugs Regulatory Services; Kris Gavin of Growers Express; Scott Horsfall, CEO of Leafy Greens Handlers Marketing Agreement; and Lisa Lurie of Santa Cruz Resource Conservation District.
Following the panel discussions, participants visited an organic vegetable and berry farm near Watsonville. The landowner, growers and food safety professionals discussed how they manage for both food safety and environmental quality, which some people see as conflicting priorities.
“I don’t see any conflicts between properly implemented co-management practices and protection of water quality,” said Ken Harris, executive officer of the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board after completing a field exercise at the ALBA Triple M Ranch outside Watsonville.
Brendan Miele, director of California farming operations for Jacobs Farm/del Cabo Inc., added, “I would say the same thing, but would change that to food safety.”
Participants were surveyed before and after the forum. “After the forum, 88 percent of the participants felt they understood co-management principles, 14 percent higher than before the forum,” Bianchi said, “and 85 percent of the participants felt that they could incorporate what they learned into the decisions they make.”
Conservation and food safety professionals, food safety auditors, federal and state agencies, environmental groups, scientists and members of the agricultural industry are invited to discuss strategies to ensure food safety while protecting natural resources on Aug. 21 in Watsonville.
The sixth annual Farm, Food Safety & Conservation Network Co-management Forum will be held at the Watsonville Civic Plaza Community Room from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 21.
“Co-management requires networking among stakeholders to understand different types of risks in the produce industry,” explained Mary Bianchi, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties and one of the organizers of the forum.
Craig McNamara, president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture, will be the keynote speaker. A panel of UC Cooperative Extension and UC Davis scientists will discuss the latest research on managing nitrate, pathogens and pesticides. Representatives of grower organizations and regulatory agencies will discuss policy related to co-management. After lunch, participants will visit a local organic farm, then reconvene to discuss management strategies that meet production and conservation goals.
Registration is free and includes lunch. To register, visit https://ucanr.edu/survey/survey.cfm?surveynumber=11031.
Co-management takes into consideration that practices designed to conserve natural resources may impact food safety, and food safety practices may impact natural resources. For example, produce buyers often prefer bare ground around crops because they allow food safety managers to see wildlife tracks indicating animal intrusion in the crop, but vegetation buffers may be more effective at reducing movement of pollutants to surface waters.
The forum is being hosted by the Farm, Food Safety & Conservation Network, a Central Coast-based working group whose members bring expertise from diverse interests to support food safety, environmental quality and agricultural viability.
Conservationists, growers, food safety experts discuss food safety, water quality
Fresh produce growers are encouraged and sometimes required by law to protect soil and water quality on their farms as well as support wildlife populations by preserving their habitat. At the same time, growers must protect their crops from contamination by pathogens that can cause foodborne illnesses.
Strategies to ensure food safety while protecting natural resources was the subject of lively discussion among conservation and food safety professionals, auditors, federal and state agencies, environmental groups, scientists and members of the agricultural industry who gathered in Watsonville on Wednesday, April 18.
Achieving food safety and conservation objectives while maintaining a strong bottom line is extremely challenging for the produce industry at all levels of the supply chain.
Hank Giclas, senior vice president for strategic planning, science and technology at Western Growers said, "Despite the challenges, growers are committed to providing safe food while ensuring conservation of vital natural resources and these forums are important settings in which a free flow of ideas and experiences are exchanged to further both objectives."
The University of California Cooperative Extension, in collaboration with the Farm Food Safety and Conservation Network brought together 100 people for the fifth annual Food Safety and Water Quality Co-management Forum.
Those attending heard the latest information on existing and pending regulations and food safety guidelines that affect co-management and the most recent science of risk assessment. They also engaged in frank discussion of co-management challenges and solutions at all levels of the supply chain, from large company policies to field level practices of individual growers.
"Co-management requires networking among stakeholders to understand different types of risks in the produce industry," explained Mary Bianchi, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties.
Co-management takes into consideration that practices designed to conserve natural resources may impact food safety, and food safety practices may impact natural resources. For example, produce buyers often prefer bare ground around crops because they allow food safety managers to observe tracks indicating animal intrusion in the crop, but vegetation buffers may be more effective at reducing movement of pollutants to surface waters. A co-management approach might minimize the use of bare-ground buffers near waterways to reduce adverse impacts on water quality management. Food safety professionals with co-management savvy will also recognize that vegetated buffers between areas frequented by wildlife, such as rangeland, can minimize the movement of pathogens in surface waters flowing toward the crop, particularly on sloped terrain.
Bianchi, who helped organize the meeting, was pleased with the results of the event.
"We surveyed the participants before and after the forum," she said. "Before the forum, 27 percent of the participants said they felt they had adequate access to science-based information about co-management. After the forum, 55 percent of the participants felt they had access to science-based that would help them make decisions, and 79 percent of the participants felt that they could incorporate what they learned into the decisions they make."
A panel of industry leaders discussed the evolving food safety guidelines and policy, including the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement, and Good Agricultural Practices harmonization. The panel included Greg Komar, Growers Express director of food safety; Laura Giudici-Mills, owner of LGM Consulting; and Dave Runsten, Community Alliance with Family Farmers director of policy and programs; and Giclas of Western Growers.
Scientists led a discussion on the fate and transport of pathogens in the farm landscape and how science can be applied to assess risk and inform co-management decisions in the field. The scientific panel included Mark Ibekwe, USDA Agricultural Research Service microbiologist; Trevor Suslow, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis; Michele Jay-Russell, Western Institute for Food Safety and Security program manager at UC Davis; Andy Gordus, California Department of Fish and Game environmental scientist; and Bianchi.
Following the panel discussions, participants visited an organic vegetable and berry farm near the Watsonville Sloughs. The landowner, growers and food safety professionals discussed how they manage for food safety and environmental quality.
"We had a very diverse group attending, which is what the goal of the Farm Food Safety and Conservation Network is, to bring together diverse stakeholders in the hopes of building collaborative relationships around the topic of co-management," said Komar of Growers Express. "This forum, in my opinion, was very successful at doing just that."
Mary Bianchi, UC Cooperation Extension farm advisor, (805) 781-5949, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lisa Lurie, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Farm Food Safety and Conservation Network Coordinator (831) 420-3662, email@example.com
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is funding the $25 million, coast-to-coast project, to which UC Davis is providing expertise in livestock health, foodborne disease and consumer food marketing.
The project, announced Jan. 23 by the USDA, aims to reduce the occurrence of and public health risks associated with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli. The research effort is led by the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.
UC Davis researchers collaborating in the project include James Cullor, a professor in the School of Veterinary Medicine; Christine Bruhn, a food science marketing specialist and director of the Center for Consumer Research; and Terry Lehenbauer, director, and Sharif Aly, assistant professor, both of the Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center in Tulare.
Cullor and his colleagues in the veterinary school's Dairy Food Safety Laboratory -- in Davis and Tulare -- will conduct research aimed at reducing the microbial counts on cattle hides during processing, looking for ecologically responsible methods for enhancing food safety. They also will test radiofrequency technologies, which use electrical currents oscillating at specific frequencies to inactivate E. coli on beef carcasses during processing.
Bruhn will collaborate with North Carolina State University and Kansas State University to reduce health risks associated with undercooked hamburgers. The researchers will encourage television food programs to include safe food-handling practices and messages.
In addition, Bruhn will work with health care professionals to raise the number of food-handling messages directed toward consumers who are at increased risk for foodborne illness, especially children and people with diabetes. She also will investigate consumer interest in the use of irradiation or high-pressure technologies to enhance the safety of ground meat.
Lehenbauer, Aly and their colleagues at the Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center will participate in animal research needed for understanding the epidemiology and ecology of non-Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, after information from preliminary studies is used to develop the scientific protocols for these animal-sampling projects. The research team will focus on dairy cattle, including male Holstein cattle that are being raised for beef production
Other participants are the University of Delaware, New Mexico State University, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, the University of Arkansas, the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, and a consortium of government, academic and industry scientists and food safety professionals.