University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and the Nevada Department of Agriculture will offer an Introduction to Food Safety in Horticultural Operations training, focusing on risk management and good agricultural practices March 11. The training will provide an introduction to on-farm food-safety practices related to fruit and vegetable production. Participants will learn principles of good agricultural and handling practices.
“This training teaches how to ensure fresh horticultural products are safer for consumers and how to reduce risk to the farm business associated with legal action if a contaminated product were to enter the marketing channel,” White Pine County Extension Educator Seth Urbanowitz said. “It will allow fruit and vegetable producers to sell to a larger group of people, and it’s great for public health officials, schools, farmers market managers and agriculture professionals.”
The training will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with registration starting at 8:20 a.m. Training sessions began last fall, with Urbanowitz training more than 50 people so far.
“Food safety is important in providing the consumer high-quality safe food, mitigating risk and gaining market access,” Urbanowitz said.
According to Urbanowitz, producers should have a food-safety plan for their farms so that they can think more comprehensively about food safety and ultimately prepare for a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) /Good Handling Practices (GHP) audit. After attending the training, participants may go through the audit process to be certified one year under the GAP/GHP certification, as well as apply for cost-share funding for the cost of the audit.
With more schools and restaurants trying to buy locally produced fruits and vegetables, producers need some type of safety certification to meet the terms of the contracts with these entities. Direct-market farmers have an opportunity to be certified and even have the cost of certification reduced through the cost-share program, which will cover 75 percent of all costs associated with a successful USDA GHP/GAP audit, up to a maximum of $750. To qualify for disbursement, applicants must have successfully completed an approved USDA audit between June 1, 2013 and July 30, 2015.
The March 11 training will be held at the Cooperative Extension Office in Caliente and broadcast to interactive video sites at Cooperative Extension offices in Elko, Logandale, Pahrump and Reno. Cost is $10 per person.
The training is part of Cooperative Extension’s Herds and Harvest Program that helps farmers and ranchers develop agricultural entrepreneurship, implement sustainable agricultural marketing strategies and improve profitability. Since 2011, the program has reached several hundred farmers and ranchers across the state. Two-thirds of the participants reported they would make changes in their business practices because of what they learned through the program.
For more information or to register for the Good Agricultural Practices training, contact Program Coordinator Jennifer Kintz at Cooperative Extension, 775-945-3444, ext. 12 or [email protected]. Persons in need of special accommodations or assistance should call 775-945-3444 at least three days prior to the scheduled event.