A series of training sessions hosted by Ohio State University’s Fruit and Vegetable Safety Program continues through May and possibly into June, before the growing season gets into full swing.
The Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) sessions provide produce growers the basics of on-farm food safety. In addition, participants will hear the latest news on revisions that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is making to proposed regulations for produce growers under the Food Safety Modernization Act, said Lindsey Hoover, the program’s coordinator. The program is a combined effort of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, the outreach and research arms of the university’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
Hoover said the FDA will likely publish its revisions in early summer. Soon after, Hoover said, she plans to schedule listening sessions about the proposed rules and encourage growers to submit comments on them.
“I believe when the initial proposal was made public last year, the FDA received about 18,000 comments,” Hoover said.
The agency “had a change of thinking on some issues because of the response from growers and other industry stakeholders.” The FDA is expected to modify some key provisions it had proposed in the produce safety rule, Hoover said, including those involving water quality standards and testing and the use of raw manure and compost as fertilizer.
“The FDA seems to want to accommodate growers’ concerns while still making sure produce is as safe as possible,” she said.
Growers interested in attending listening sessions when the new rules are released may watch for announcements on the program’s website, http://producesafety.osu.edu or contact Hoover at 330-202-3555, ext. 2918 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, Ohio growers can attend an upcoming GAPs session, listed below.
However, it’s important to note that attending these sessions does not make a grower “GAPs Certified,” Hoover said.
“Becoming ‘GAPs Certified,’ which more retailers are requiring of their suppliers, usually means a grower must participate in an on-farm third-party audit,” she said. “That’s something we can’t provide.”
Still, growers who attend the sessions learn the basics on what they need to do to provide safe produce to consumers and retailers and how to begin developing a farm food safety plan.
Hoover hopes to add more sessions, including sessions for Scioto, Jackson, Gallia, Ross and Richland counties in May or June. To suggest a new training location, contact Hoover. To see an updated schedule, go to http://producesafety.osu.edu/events.
Each session is $20. Pre-registration is required one week beforehand by printing and mailing a check and the registration form available online for each session. Participants who need a printed registration form mailed to them may contact Hoover at 330-202-3555, ext. 2918, or by fax at 330-263-3685.
* April 15, 1-4 p.m., Monroe and Belmont counties. Register by April 8. Somerton Fire House, 55717 Washington St., Barnesville, Ohio, 43713. Contact Mark Landefeld at 740-472-0810 or email@example.com.
* April 15, 6-9 p.m., Guernsey and Noble counties. Register by April 8. Guernsey County Extension Office, 335-B Old National Road, Old Washington, Ohio, 43768. Contact Clif Little at 740-489-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
* April 22, 1-4 p.m., Athens County. Register by April 15. Kurhe Center for Rural Renewal, 9030 Hocking Hills Drive, The Plains, Ohio, 45780. Contact Tom Redfern at 740-677-4047 or email@example.com.
* April 22, 6-9 p.m., Perry County. Register by April 15. Somerset Courthouse, 100 Public Square, Somerset, Ohio, 43783. Contact Tom Redfern at 740-677-4047 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
* April 28, 6-9 p.m., Hamilton County. Register by April 21. Hamilton County Extension Office, 5093 Colerain Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio, 45223. Contact Julie Crook at 513-946-8998 or email@example.com.
* April 30, 12-3 p.m., Muskingum County. Register by April 23. Muskingum County Extension Office, 225 Underwood St., Zanesville, Ohio, 43701. Contact Mark Mechling at 740-454-0144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
* April 30, 6-9 p.m., Carroll County. Register by April 23. Carroll County Extension Office, 613 N. High St., Carrollton, Ohio, 44615. Contact Sandy Smith at 330-627-4310 or email@example.com.
* May 21, 6-9 p.m., Montgomery County. Register by May 14. Montgomery County Extension Office, 1001 South Main St., Dayton, Ohio, 45309. Contact Suzanne Mills-Wasniak at 937-224-9654, ext. 109 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
* May 28, 9 a.m.-noon, Ashtabula County. Register by May 21. Ashtabula County Extension Office, 39 Wall St., Jefferson, Ohio, 44047. Contact David Marrison at 440-576-9008 or email@example.com.
* May 28, 1-4 p.m., Geauga County. Register by May 21. Geauga County Extension Office, 4269 Claridon-Troy Road, Burton, Ohio, 44021. Contact Erik Draper at 440-834-4656 or firstname.lastname@example.org.