Archive for the ‘Farming’ Category

Who’s growing your #food? #farming #agriculture http://t.co/1Je9QvJ4tl



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@pamelasweeten: Who’s growing your #food? #farming #agriculture http://t.co/1Je9QvJ4tl


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This is an example of a farm record that will follow the commodity throughout the supply chain. Complete and secure.



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The following was written by Nina Ferretti, she has compelling comments I would like to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for reading.

Most people in the agricultural industry already know that we comprise less than 2% of the entire population of the United States. We know that each of us roughly feeds 155 people. Many of us have asked people “where does your food come from?” and are pained when the answer is something along the lines of “the store.” Never mind those of us who have opened our farms and homes to agritourists and elementary school field trips who have regularly found ourselves suppressing a cringe or the desire to scream when a child asks “where’s the salsa tree?”

Salsa tree??? What, kid?! What are they teaching you in these schools? What is wrong with your parents?

Why, other than because they’re flat out wrong, do comments and questions like these pain us so? Maybe because it is our lives that we have devoted to the soil, the land, the plants, and the animals. We often build our homes and have spent our entire lives on our piece of dirt. We have grown up here, raised families here, and, quite possibly, over time we have poured literally as much of our blood, sweat, and tears on to it as we have in us.

As humans, we need to realize that they come from a completely different world. Recall that urban sprawl we are so concerned about. They live in the middle of that. No rolling hills with grazing cattle or sheep or neat rows of crops for as far as the eye can see for them. Have you ever seen a grown adult who is seeing cotton for the first time? What about the lightbulb going off when they make the connection with that and the clothes that they are wearing? They lead completely different lives with completely different concerns. They (gasp) know nothing about the farming practices which sustain them. Coincidentally those are the same farming practices on which they are asked to vote.

Indeed, the uneducated consumer is put in a position on a regular basis to make decisions on OUR livelihood. In many cases they make our lives harder based on a small kernel of information that they got off of some piece of propaganda. In this world of fear-based marketing, they know not what they do.

Cut to the old men at the coffee shop, the women at the latest fundraiser, the FFA students at a community event, even the well-meaning industry professionals. I have been present time and again when we are all talking about the need to educate the public. But when the time comes to educate the public, instead of going to the masses, we preach to the choir.

It is easy to speak to others in the industry because they are the ones who are receptive to the message. There isn’t a whole lot of challenging going on. The energy, while it feels as if it is building in these conversations, is a waste. It’s like leaving the lights on when you leave the room. Nothing other than our own egos benefit from complaining to each other.

Agriculturalists need to get out there and have the hard conversations. Especially California’s agriculturalists. Why?

According to the 2010 census, of the most populous cities of the nation, #2 Los Angeles, #8 San Diego, #10 San Jose. A total of seventeen California cities are listed in the top 100. The second most populous state in the nation, Texas, has almost 12 million fewer people than California. Just to shed some light on the situation, 44 out of 50 states have a population smaller than the size of that 12 million person gap.

One more number for you: 36,508,876. If we go by that commonly known agricultural statistic that at most only 2% of the population are farmers, then there are at least thirty six million five hundred eight thousand eight hundred seventy six people in this state alone who are partially if not completely removed from the production of their food, fiber, and lumber. Some know absolutely nothing about it. Yet, here’s the kicker, they are asked to vote on production practices; often on a yearly basis.

The result is that California’s agricultural industry is the most regulated in the nation. The scary fact is that there is a growing trend of businesses, agricultural or not, leaving the state for greener pastures. Production costs are on the rise, largely due to the votes of an uneducated public.

It’s time for agriculturalists to break out of their comfort zone or draw people into it. It’s true, dealing with a public different than yourself is difficult. Different views require different approaches and infinite patience when communicating. Let’s face it, as a people, we are not good at speaking with the public. If we were, this problem would not have escalated this far.

Agriculturalists must seek new information in order to learn to communicate with the public and learn to disseminate information in a way that they can understand. We have long been stewards of the land and now we must be stewards of our profession.

Yes, there is a new, larger crop of agricultural communicators entering the workforce, but these degree programs are in embarrassingly limited supply in California. In fact, they are only in the developmental stages and there is only one established chapter of the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow in in the entire state. We cannot wait for these communications professionals to be trained. We need action now. And, even in the future when there will be more trained communicators, they will need the help of farmers and ranchers in a big way to get the message out there; doing anything from being part of public forums to inviting agritourists onto their land.

And not only do we need to speak with the public, but with people and organizations on the other side of the line as well. For example, in 2010, the egg industry sat down with the Humane Society. Many argued that they were going to destroy agriculture as a whole and that they had opened the door to opposing organizations altering the agricultural industry for the worse. What actually happened was that the egg industry came to an agreement with HSUS and were able to set out a list of operational rules that benefitted both parties. More importantly, the egg industry was able to avoid a constant barrage of legal assaults in the future and they are now able to concentrate, not on court room battles, but on producing eggs and growing and improving the industry.

Communication with the public is the only way in which we will be able to keep our industry alive. For the majority of us, it is a new skill. Honestly, many of us chose our profession because we were promised that we would never have to learn that skill. Many of you are happy to take the tractor another round on the back 40 with only your own thoughts to keep you company. Maybe it’s the back of a horse or quad while checking herds that suits you. Those are the lives we love and they offer peaceful tranquility, a sense of accomplishment, and it’s work we’re proud to do. Chances are, it is the opportunity to do this work that you hope to pass down to your children. Bluntly put, it won’t be there for them if you don’t take action now.

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With FDA already over the original due date for FSMA rules, extending comment periods, and being subjected to lawsuits and court mandates because of that, the government shutdown certainly has not helped to move things along. However, this does not mean that the food industry should sit back and wait for the rules to be finalized or compliance to take effect. There are numerous reasons you should be working toward compliance now – many of which are, like the rules themselves, interdependent.

Following are 10 Reasons you should be working toward FSMA compliance now:

1. Prevention vs. Reaction –

Moving the industry from reaction to prevention is the foundation of FSMA. Acting now is preventive; waiting until all the rules are in place and the deadline is pending is reactive. Further, much of what is in FSMA is good for brand protection, so paying attention to these rules today will help you develop systems that have other important impacts on your business. (See #9.)

2. The Devil is in the Details –

If you’ve taken a look at the proposed rules, you know that they are quite detailed. The longer you wait to review the rules and apply them to your business, the more you can expect to be scrambling to try to meet the compliance dates – particularly if you find that you are subject to more than one rule with interdependent clauses. (See #3.) When you rush to complete a task, you are more likely to make mistakes or miss those devilish details. Think about any project you recently undertook. Did you give yourself enough time to thoroughly review the specifications, strategize and plan, take action to implement the plan, then evaluate it to ensure that it not only fits the specifications but also is effective for your business? If you waited until the last minute to start the project, you probably did not have enough time to implement each of the steps needed for success. In the same way, if you wait until the last minute to begin working on the FSMA rules, it’s unlikely you will give yourself enough to do much more than simply take action and hope for the best.

3. Multiple Rule Compliance –

The complexity and interdependence of the FSMA provisions are a primary reason that FDA has had to take extra time to develop the rules and has extended the comment periods. In much the same way, every business will have to interpret the complex details of at least one rule; and most businesses will be subject to multiple rules and have to take into consideration the interdependence of each. For example, the Preventive Controls rule will impact most businesses in one way or another; if you grow, harvest, pack, or hold produce, you will also be subject to the Produce Safety rule; and if you use any imported ingredients or supplies, you may be impacted by the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (FSVP) and the Accredited Third-Party rule – all of which are interdependent.

4. Training –

Implementing practices and standards in your operation to ensure compliance with the rules will require personnel training. If you are still in the process of developing compliant standards when the deadline looms, you will have no opportunity to educate or train your workers in your new standards.

5. ROI –

Start monitoring critical operations and save time and money by seeing that things need a correction before you have a problem on your hands. Identify corrective actions before there is an issue so that you don’t need to reinvent the wheel or waste time trying to remember what you did last time. Similarly, have a recall plan so that there isn’t mass confusion on who does what when (not if) you have a recall.

6. Improve Food Safety

Besides the direct standard-making practices of the first four reasons there is also a business case to be made for implementing improved practices that meet or exceed FSMA rules. If the proposed rules contain preventive controls or safety measures that you are not already implementing in your facility, you are likely at risk for a food safety violation and/or recall – and all the negative media attention and economic reprisals that entails. (See #7 and #8.) If you have any doubts along these lines, read our blog from last week: Are We in a New Era of Federal Prosecutions for Food Safety?

7. Brand Protection

While business closure and complete loss of brand is an extreme result, any food safety violation (unintended or not) or recall can, and usually does, garner undesirable media attention. And today, media is not only the local paper or national TV news, it is also the homemaker blogger, the teenage tweeter, and the cause-centric consumer activist, all of whom have open access to Internet posting of information – and misinformation. The more you protect the safety of your food through regulated or unregulated preventive-based controls, the more you protect your brand.

8. Move Toward or Maintain Certification to a GFSI-benchmarked Scheme –

There are many parallels between the FSMA Preventive Controls rule and GFSI standard. Take SQF for example – Although there are elements of SQF and other GFSI-benchmarked schemes that are not as prescriptive as FSMA, there are several areas addressed by SQF that have not been addressed in the proposed rule. Thus, as the food industry looks to protect customers and their brand as well as be in compliance with the proposed new rules, our own analysis indicates that being SQF level 2 certified to today’s SQF standards is a very strong start. If you’re already certified, keep improving (#9); if you’re not, consider if implementing preventive controls warrants the pursuit of certification to a GFSI scheme.

9. Best Practices for Continuous Improvement

Implementing best practices should be a basic practice for every food facility, and there are plenty of best practices written into the proposed rules that will enable a facility to improve. Implementing best practices gleaned from this review of the rules will not only move you toward compliance, it will help you continuously improve.

10. Just Do It –

Although the final rules are unlikely to be exactly the same as the proposed rules, getting started will certainly give you a leg up. And if you work toward complying with the strictest of the proposed rule, you will be closer to being ready if the final rule is even stricter. And if the final rule is less strict? Worst case, you will be over safe; certainly not a bad thing! The bar of FSMA is not that high – do you really want to be only as good as the lowest common denominator?

By David Acheson
The Acheson Group


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CA border stations are vital to our food supply; a small inconvenience to reduce pest risks. #bees http://t.co/mWU698OHFD.

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USA Jean Traceability http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kjWgd8xWCM #paperli

PCCA, All American Clothing Company and American Cotton Growers share their story.

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Better Water Distribution System for California!.

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Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184

WASHINGTON – Today, Chairman Frank Lucas of Oklahoma issued the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (FARRM) Act of 2013 by a vote of 216-208.

“Today was an important step toward enacting a five-year farm bill this year that gives our farmers and ranchers certainty, provides regulatory relief to small businesses across the country, significantly reduces spending, and makes common-sense, market-oriented reforms to agricultural policy. I look forward to continuing conversations with my House colleagues and starting conversations with my Senate colleagues on a path forward that ultimately gets a farm bill to the President’s desk in the coming months,” said Chairman Frank Lucas.

To view Chairman Lucas’ floor speech before the final vote click here.


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