A new Cornell University/National Farmers Union survey says more than 50% of local U.S. produce growers say they need more adequate financial resources to implement food safety practices. 

“First and foremost, they want to keep American consumers healthy by protecting them from foodborne illnesses,” National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said. He noted farmers also want access to markets to sell their products, which means complying with food safety regulations.

There is no universal definition for the term “local,” so the study considered anyone who sold their product within 275 miles from their operation as local.

Nearly 70% of people surveyed said they had not received or did not know if they had received a third-party food safety audit and 40% said food safety training was not applicable to their operations. Some 90% of producers surveyed are exempt from the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule (PSR), and the Preventative Control for Human Foods Rule (PCHFR). But some local farms reported growing and handling a wide diversity of raw agricultural commodities covered by the FSMA PSR.

Over 1,000 food producers, processors, farmers, and aggregators participated in the survey, which launched in 2017. Some 599 participants met the survey’s definition of local food processors. Almost one-third of local food producer survey participants identified as food processors with 81.5% of this group identifying as farmers.

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