I just came back from Orlando, Florida where I attended a meeting of the Produce Safety Alliance, a joint project by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Cornell University to provide farmers who grow and market fruits and vegetables with training and education about on-farm food safety practices.
At that meeting I talked about how America’s farmers and ranchers are one of our nation’s greatest assets. We rely on them for our food, to preserve our environment and to help strengthen our nation’s economy. I talked about the importance of the USDA and FDA working together to address on- farm food safety practices in a way that grows and strengthens America’s farms and rural communities.
I was impressed with the diversity of stakeholders at the meeting. Large retailers, farms big and small, as well as Amish farms and farms who sell direct to customers participated. Growers from California, North Carolina, Michigan, Ohio and other states attended the meeting to talk about their concerns, each group sharing and learning from the other. I was also really impressed with leadership that Cooperative Extension Service, various sectors of the produce industry and non-profit organizations have taken to reach out to growers who are working to improve on-farm food safety.
Everyone agreed that food safety is important to all Americans and we share in the responsibility of ensuring a safe food supply. They agreed that farmers, grocery stores, and consumers all have a role to play in making our food safer.
They also agreed that by working together to educate growers across the country about the importance of food safety practices we can ensure that US markets nationwide will continue to grow and thrive.
For more information on USDA’s Marketing and Regulatory Programs visit our website.