Food Safety Spotlight: The ABCs in School Gardens

May 12, 2021Food Safety

By Billy Mitchell, NFU Food Safety Training Coordinator Farm to school programs continue to grow in popularity, with some schools taking part in hyper-local sourcing by using school gardens and farms to provide students with opportunities for taste testing and hands-on learning. Teachers tending these school plots may ask themselves, “how do we grow the best tasting produce while following food safety practices to keep our kids safe?” Thankfully, teachers are well-primed to … Read More

Alpha Gamma Rho Donates $2,600 to Support Farm Mental Health

May 7, 2021Blog

By Connor Hultman, previous Noble Ruler of Alpha Gamma Rho chapter at Iowa State University In the Fall of 2020, the men of Alpha Gamma Rho at Iowa State University set out to raise as much money as they could for the agriculturalists of the United States that make the world go around. After a … Read More

Food Safety Spotlight: Take 5 with Gretchen Wall of the Produce Safety Alliance

April 29, 2021Blog, Food Safety

By Billy Mitchell, NFU Food Safety Training Coordinator The Produce Safety Alliance (PSA), a collaboration between Cornell University, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is probably best known for developing the PSA Grower Training Course that growers and educators use around the country. Perhaps less well known, … Read More

Food Safety Spotlight: Good Design for Good Practices

April 28, 2021Blog, Food Safety

By Billy Mitchell, NFU Food Safety Training Coordinator On a recent episode of the Tilth Alliance Farm Walks Podcast, Ryan Lichttenegger of Steel Wheel Farm in Fall City, Washington, and Andy Chamberlin, Agricultural Engineering Technician at the University of Vermont (UVM) Extension, dove into some of the ins and outs of DIY hygienic design. Lichttenegger recently … Read More

Food Safety Spotlight: Take 5 with Michigan Farmers Union

April 28, 2021Blog, Food Safety

By Billy Mitchell, NFU Food Safety Training Coordinator Over the past year, Mary Mcgraw and Blain Becktold provided outreach and education with the Michigan Farmers Union as part the Local Food Safety Collaborative, a cooperative agreement with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). We asked them to take a break to reflect back on this … Read More

 Diagnose and Discuss: Food Safety Clinic Benefits Growers

April 14, 2021Food Safety

By Billy Mitchell, NFU Food Safety Training Coordinator If you have a community-based farm and want to identify ways to strengthen your operation, there’s no better place to go for suggestions and solutions than other farmers— alongside some back up from educators who know your area well. Pennsylvania Farmers Union (PAFU) created a virtual space for urban growers to gather, learn, diagnose, and discuss areas for potential improvement on their farms at the Mid-Atlantic Produce Safety Clinic for Growers. The clinic … Read More

Drought Grips Western U.S.

April 8, 2021Blog

After a year riddled with pandemic-related challenges, farmers were hoping for an easy, uncomplicated growing season. Unfortunately, for many that dream seems unlikely, as much of the Western half of the country is experiencing severe to exceptional drought conditions. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the dry conditions can be attributed to “a weak summer … Read More

Small Business Loans Extended

April 1, 2021Blog

A day before the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was set to expire on March 31, President Joe Biden signed a two-month extension into law. The program, which provides forgivable loans to cover businesses’ payroll and other costs, is now open for applications through May 31, 2021. Though the term “paycheck” is used in the program name, businesses are not … Read More

Scaling Good Manufacturing Processes Education to Small-Scale Processors

March 31, 2021Food Safety

By Tricia Wancko, Food Safety Grant Coordinator Many small-scale farms and food businesses—whether they are chopping, canning, preserving, aggregating, or dehydrating value-added products—might not know where to begin when navigating the Preventive Controls Rule (PCR) of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). While many of these small processors may be exempt from parts of the rule, they still must comply with Current Good Manufacturing Processes (cGMPs). CGMPs are the foundation for … Read More

Why Farmers Are Worried About Bill Gates (And Other Non-Farming Land-Owners)

March 29, 2021Blog

By Hannah Packman, NFU Communications Director You’ve likely heard the buzz that Bill Gates, in addition to being one of the wealthiest men in the world, is now also the largest private owner of farmland in the United States. Over the past several years, the billionaire has amassed a portfolio of 242,000 acres of cropland across … Read More

Good Practices Bring Great Results for Small Farms

March 17, 2021Blog, Food Safety

By Billy Mitchell, NFU FSMA Training Coordinator “Camaraderie with the whole team.”  “Much more fun!”  “Peace of mind.”  For most farmers, those phrases may conjure up memories of early fall picnics with staff, family, and friends after the season has slowed down. But for growers Kim Butz, Nathan Vannette, and Roberto Meza, those were the phrases that came to … Read More

What the American Rescue Plan Means for Food and Farmers

March 15, 2021Blog

By Hannah Packman, National Farmers Union Communications Director Last week, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package. At the organization’s convention in early March, National Farmers Union (NFU) members urged lawmakers to “enact much-needed short-term Covid-19 relief” and outlined their priorities for such an endeavor. Among other things, they recommended measures … Read More

Oklahoma Women’s Cooperative Gives Back

March 8, 2021Blog, Member Spotlight

By Melody Aufill, AFR/OFU Member, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Ag in the Classroom Coordinator As I sat down to write this article, Oklahoma was in the middle of a massive weather event! An ice storm raced across the prairie bringing wide-spread devastation to trees, power lines, and structures. In Oklahoma, we talk about the weather often … Read More

Meeting Urban Growers’ Unique Produce Safety Needs

March 3, 2021Food Safety

By Billy Mitchell, NFU FSMA Training Coordinator One of the many lessons I’ve learned, or I should say re-learned, over the past year is how important titles can be. I’ve gone from searching “15-minute yoga” on YouTube to the more specific “15-minute Zoom fatigue yoga.” It may be mostly the same content, but if “Zoom” … Read More

Cold Temps, Hot Food Safety Projects

February 24, 2021Blog, Food Safety

By Tricia Wancko, Food Safety Grant Coordinator Punxsutawney Phil has decreed six more weeks of what has shaped up to be a frigid winter, but there are plenty of food safety projects to catch up on while the fields are frozen and you’re keeping toasty inside your burrow. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety Outreach Program … Read More

New FSMA Recordkeeping Requirements are Coming

February 12, 2021Food Safety

By Aaron Shier, NFU Senior Government Relations Representative and Billy Mitchell, Food Safety Training Coordinator The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is opening their virtual doors to everyone, including the farming community, to comment on the proposed food traceability rule. National Farmers Union (NFU), which regularly comments on federal rulemakings important to its members, will certainly … Read More

How Biden’s Executive Orders Will Affect Food and Agriculture

January 28, 2021Blog

By Hannah Packman, NFU Communications Director Following his inauguration last Wednesday, President Joe Biden has wasted no time implementing his agenda. In the last week, he has issued more than three dozen executive orders, proclamations, and memoranda on a wide range of issues. Many of these actions have implications for agriculture. Here’s a brief summary … Read More

New Year, New Water Test

January 6, 2021Food Safety

By Billy Mitchell, NFU Food Safety Training Coordinator Organize the tools. Clean the barn. Patch the pants. As farmers make their New Year’s resolutions, produce growers have an extra one to add: test the water. Contaminated water is often the culprit of produce-related food borne illnesses – but with proper precautions, it can be avoided. … Read More

How the Justice for Black Farmers Act Levels the Playing Field

December 22, 2020Blog

By Mackenzie Jeter, NFU Intern A hundred years ago, agriculture was a relatively diverse profession in the United States: a million Black farmers operated about 14 percent of the country’s farms. The makeup of the modern agricultural workforce could not look more different. Today, there are just 48,000 Black farmers – a 95 percent decline … Read More

Using Old Methods to Teach New Food Safety Techniques

December 16, 2020Food Safety

By Billy Mitchell, NFU Food Safety Training Coordinator Built on Booker T. Washington’s practice of taking educational opportunities to rural areas, designed by George Washington Carver, and financed by Morris Jesup, Jesup Wagons were “moveable schools” that delivered the university classroom experience to farmers across Alabama. Back in 1906, they were horse-drawn wagons but gradually evolved with the … Read More

New Tools Bring the Farm to Screens

December 2, 2020Food Safety

By Melanie Arthur, NFU Intern Pre-pandemic, you needed a few essential things to host an on-farm tour or educational event. First, a place for people to park. Second, some hot coffee brewing. And, finally, a good story to tell and a megaphone to carry your voice across the farm and to your attendees. Now, with trucks staying parked at home and farmers getting their coffee refills at home, farm … Read More

Lakota Rancher Strengthens Community with Agriculture Education

November 27, 2020Blog

By Jeanne Janson, NFU Journalism Intern The last 400 years of Native American history is marred with stories of land being stolen, children being forced into boarding schools and a crusade for assimilation through the erasure of culture. One result of this traumatic history is an entrenched cycle of poverty that persists on many reservations … Read More

Urban Farm Education Continues to Grow

November 10, 2020Food Safety

By Billy Mitchell, NFU FSMA Training Coordinator Over the years, the picture of a farmer and farm service provider working together has often looked the same – two people, sometimes with paperwork sprawled across a tailgate, looking out over rows and rows of a crop surrounded by farmland stretched to the horizon. It’s a classic … Read More