Published 6/18/17 in Lancaster Farming

The University of Maryland’s Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, and the Agriculture Law Education Initiative was recently awarded a $14,197 Northeast SARE Partnership Grant to create and administer on-farm food safety educational programs during winter 2017-18.

SARE grants are given to individuals or organizations to fund research and education projects, according to the grant website.

With the grant, ALEI plans to collaborate with University of Maryland Extension educators, the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and farmers to create training sessions for farmers dealing with ways to avoid contaminating farm produce.

The idea to develop the food safety training program came from ALEI legal specialists Sarah Everhart and Ashley Ellixson.

“Last year when presenting to farmers at Maryland Good Agricultural Practices trainings, we had a lot of questions from farmers on how GAP and the new Food Safety Modernization Act standards applied to individual operations,” Everhart said.

GAP trainings aim to teach farmers about decreasing the likelihood of contaminating produce, addressing water quality, fertilizer use and animal activity, according to the Maryland Department of Agriculture. FSMA, signed into law in 2011, focuses on preventing food contamination rather than responding to it, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Trainings will be offered at three different types of farms — community-supported agriculture, agritourism and on-farm markets — in different locations across Maryland.

Members of different regulatory agencies will present on particular topics.

Watch the ALEI website for more details.