Specialty Crop Regulations and Training

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Specialty crop farmers have some new regulations they need to follow from the government. There are training courses available to help.

Nebraska Farmers Union recently completed another food safety training session for specialty crops producers of vegetables, fruits and nuts. The training was the latest in a series of educational sessions designed to enhance the capacity and profitability for small to midsized specialty crop producers in Nebraska.

The training featured nationally recognized expert Atina Diffley of Family Farmed, with a focus on food safety including the recent changes in FDA's FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) regulations. The participants developed and created Food Safety Action Plans needed for sales into new markets, such as schools and grocery stores.

Thanks to the uplink capacity of Southeast Community College, producers were able to participate via the Internet. Prairie Plate, a farm to table restaurant run by Renee and Jerry Cornett, catered the locally sourced food. Big Red Worms, a local vermicomposting operation, provided a zero waste event, with a 90% reduction in food waste going to the landfill.

Jeremiah Picard, NeFU Outreach Director who organized the workshops said, "This training focused on developing solutions to food safety issues faced by small to medium specialty crop producers. The new FDA FSMA regulations impacts most farmers raising specialty crops, so these early trainings early gives producers a running start to find workable solutions. These types of targeted trainings are designed to help insure that our local food and specialty crop producers continue to grow and thrive as they gear up to meet the increasing consumer demand for locally grown foods. We will be announcing new trainings in the coming months, thanks to continued funding by the USDA AMS. "