Researchers and Extension specialists from the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture and North Carolina State University are partnering to work on a nearly $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) program.
The N.C. Fresh Produce Safety Task Force received a 2013 Opal Mann Green Engagement Award. The award recognizes distinguished leadership and dedication to values including creating inclusionary teams and community-based learning and mutually-beneficial action around local issues valued by community members.
Researchers from North Carolina State University, in collaboration with Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University and the University of California, Davis, surveyed sweet potato growers in their respective regions to assess the industry’s food safety preparedness.
Search the database by commodity to locate producers who have completed the N.C. Fresh Produce Safety Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Training Curriculum. The grower entry includes business name, location, contact information and additional crops grown.
N.C. State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute has developed a mobile refrigeration unit – the “Pack ‘N Cool” – that agricultural producers can use as a model for constructing their own units. The unit combines the mobility of a cargo trailer with the refrigeration capabilities of a commercial cooler in a more cost-efficient package.
North Carolina produces 4,230 acres of tomatoes with a farm gate value of $115 million (NASS, 2008). National outbreaks associated with tomatoes underscore the issue of foodborne illness and food safety, which pose immediate risks for tomato farmers in the areas of economics, consumer demand and market access. As tomato production is an integral part of agriculture within North Carolina, it is important to gain a better understanding of current knowledge and practices from our growers.
Rod Gurganus, formerly with N.C. State’s Plants for Human Health Institute, and Dr. Gary Roberson, Extension specialist in N.C. State’s Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, lead the effort to develop hand-washing station that are functional, practical and easier to construct for N.C. growers. With the new facilities, farming operations can reduce food safety risks associated with worker hygiene in the fields, as well as limit costs by building custom hand-washing stations versus renting or purchasing more expensive commercial stations.
Water Analysis Cost Share Program
The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) offers a Water Analysis Cost Share program. The purpose of this program is to encourage water testing as part of a pre- and post-harvest food safety program for fruit and vegetable crops. The program will assist in paying for the cost of testing irrigation and/or packing house wash water.
At the 2011 Southeast Vegetable & Fruit Expo in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Debbie Hamrick with the N.C. Farm Bureau offered an update on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Earlier in 2011, the N.C. Fresh Produce Safety Task Force, along with the N.C. Farm Bureau Federation (NCFB), present a webinar regarding FSMA.
The N.C. MarketReady Fresh Produce Safety – Field to Family program offered a mock third-party audit to educate N.C. Cooperative Extension agents and growers on the requirements for GAPs certification.