Featured: Delivering Food Safety Education to Kentucky Farmers
LEXINGTON, Kentucky – To get farmers in Kentucky up to speed on new food safety guidelines, specifically as they relate to farmers’ market sales and roadside stands, University of Kentucky researchers have developed training curriculum for Cooperative Extension agents to deliver food safety education to growers throughout the state.
Extension assistant professor Paul Priyesh Vijayakumar updated food safety guidelines to comply with state regulations. Produce Best Practices Training provides such topics as food microbiology, food hygiene, sanitation practices, cross contamination, food sampling and an overview of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
The curriculum was updated in 2016 and provided to Kentucky Extension agents in 2017 and 2018 through funding support from a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) Professional Development Program Grant. During that time, over 65,000 clients gained access to Extension programming at farmers’ markets. Through the training program, over 350 Extension agents provided training workshops with more than 1,200 farmers receiving certificates of completion on new food safety guidelines.
Through the SSARE-funded project, Vijayakumar and his colleagues have developed additional outreach and education-based efforts to address food safety resources and knowledge gaps for crop producers.
ES16-130 Training Extension Agents in Kentucky and Oklahoma on the Food Safety Modernization Act and Food Safety, Sanitation, and Good Hygiene Practices Related to Products for Sale at Farmers' Markets
SARE State Coordinators are vital for expanding sustainable agriculture training for Extension, NRCS, and other agricultural professionals, who will then help producers transition to a more sustainable agriculture.
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SARE IN KENTUCKY
The Kentucky SARE program is a collaboration between the University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University. Kentucky SARE partners with researchers, extension faculty, producers, and community organizers to research and implement the best science-based practices available in all aspect's of Kentucky's agricultural system.
Indirectly, the results of the study have significantly increased the base of experience and knowledge about using furrow guidance technology for the production of various vegetable crops. It has led to the development of new applications such as applying fertilizer and laying plastic, and has inspired new ideas for other applications including pulling drip tape, applying compost and mulch, and weeding between plants within the row.
Professional Development Program
Within each state, agricultural educators work directly with farmers and ranchers to further sustainable agriculture production and marketing practices. Through a program called the Professional Development Program (PDP), SARE state ag coordinators provide support for sustainable agriculture education and outreach strategies.
SARE and the National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) offer the Sustainable Agriculture Fellows Program, which enhances Cooperative Extension personnel’s understanding of sustainable agriculture and provides broad-based, national exposure to successful and unique sustainable agriculture programs.