Growers and conservation planners wanting to implement conservation on farmland while engaging in Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) for Food Safety will find The Wild Farm Alliance’s new handbook, Co-Managing Farm Stewardship with Food Safety GAPs and Conservation Practices: A Grower's and Conservationists' Handbook to be an excellent resource. This handbook was written to help growers and conservation planners co-manage food safety and conservation (see above figure) by understanding food safety risks in the growing environment, and by learning details of how specific management practices may reduce or increase food safety risk. The Handbook starts with a description of pathogens of concern for human health and how they can be introduced to the farm through water, air, or animals or humans. It explains how conservation practices address food safety concerns in the context of the FDA Produce Rule in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and GAPs. Educational information is provided on pathogen persistence in soils and how environmental factors such as sunlight, temperature and predation influence or reduce pathogens. The handbook then provides information regarding conservation practices that have demonstrated evidence of reducing pathogens in the produce environment or as they enter or leave this environment. A variety of practices are covered, most provide NRCS practice references. The Handbook explains how each practice relates to food safety concerns, in some cases by helping to reduce or remove pathogens or prevent their transport into the cropping system. In other cases it explains the potential risks so that they can be managed. A multi-barrier approach is presented where conservation practices and food safety Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) can be used to reduce food safety risk.
The Handbook builds on the ongoing work by major research scientists, food safety regulatory agencies, and extension personnel, referencing industry and research documents that can be reviewed for more in depth knowledge on a wide range of food safety, conservation and co-management topics.
By Jo Ann Baumgartner and Pam Krone-Davis