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July 2016


Getting Ready for FSMA

Brief Background on FSMA
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law in January 2011. It authorizes the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take a preventive approach to ensuring a safe food supply. FSMA contains seven major rules dealing with all aspects of the food supply chain.

Brief Background on the Produce Safety Rule
The Produce Safety Rule (hereafter, “the rule”) sets food safety standards for farms to follow to reduce the risk of microbiological contamination that can occur during the growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of fresh produce. The rule sets forth rules and requirements for:

  • Microbiological water quality
  • Water quality testing
  • Application of biological soil amendments (including raw manure and compost)
  • Sprouts
  • Animals, domesticated and wild
  • Worker training and health and hygiene
  • Equipment, tools, and buildings

Some farms might not be subject to the rule, or may not be subject to all provisions of the rule. This document will help you understand whether or not you must comply. Subsequent articles will explain how to comply, and how to access additional resources and support.

In partnership with the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, the New England Farmers Union (NEFU) is pleased to offer a series of articles explaining the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule.

Click here to read full articles

Note: farms not subject to these rules in whole or in part are still responsible for producing safe food as outlined in a different federal law: The Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C) and related regulations. Thus FDA retains the authority to take enforcement action against adulterated food and/or farmers producing adulterated food regardless of a farm or farmer’s FSMA responsibilities.

Farm Safety Education Should Reach Beyond the Farm Gate

Nearly 500 farm work-related deaths occur annually, according to a 2013 study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). As farmers and ranchers are more active on and around their operations this time of year, National Farmers Union (NFU) is raising awareness about farm safety issues and best practices through a series of 10 educational videos, which are now available on the NFU website.

The majority of the population is multiple generations removed from the farm, and may not be aware of what it takes to be safe when visiting a local farm. Even the most experienced equipment operators can have an accident. Taking the appropriate precautions could make a life-saving difference. Click here to read more

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Member Profile: Hudson Valley Farm Hub

The ProFarmer Training Program is an educational initiative of the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, a 1,255-acre not-for-profit farm in Hurley, New York. Through demonstration, research, and farmer training, they provide education and raise awareness about agricultural practices that are locally rooted, equitable, ecologically regenerative, and economically viable. The ProFarmer Program is a 2-5 year management training program for those with farming experience who aspire to obtain farm management positions or own their own farm enterprises in the Hudson Valley. This is a full-time salaried position, including full benefits, with an annual salary in the low $30,000 range.  

Through this practical, hands-on curriculum grounded in the work of the Farm Hub, ProFarmer trainees will attain agricultural and mechanical technical skills, knowledge of the Hudson Valley food system, strong relationships with colleagues on and off the farm, communication and business skills, and deep experience with equitable and ecological farming practices. Each ProFarmer trainee selected for admission into the program will be hired as a year-round employee of the Farm Hub, receiving a full-time salary with full benefits and the option of free, modest housing in the Farm Hub residences. Click here to read more

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Spoiler Alert & Healthy Acadia: A Food Donation and Case Study

Guest blog post by: Farmers Union member, Spoiler Alert

Healthy Acadia is a Maine-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit working to build healthy communities. In partnership with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, Healthy Acadia coordinates gleaning opportunities throughout Hancock and Washington counties, a region characterized by significant levels of poverty and food insecurity. Healthy Acadia connects volunteers with farms, orchards, farmers’ markets, and other food producers and vendors to collect food that would otherwise go to waste and then manages distribution of the collected food to community meal sites and food pantries.


Hannah Semler, Healthy Acadia’s Gleaning Coordinator for Hancock County, wanted to streamline the food recovery program’s communication and transportation efforts and create a more connected ecosystem of farm and nonprofit partners. Before Spoiler Alert, farmers would need to take the time to call Healthy Acadia — or Hannah’s cell phone — with news of surplus food, and this didn’t always happen. This phone call most likely resulted in a voicemail, often missing the opportunity to gather more specific information about the product or volume available, which left Healthy Acadia with few details to play for volunteer coordination. Additionally, it is not always easy to get a busy farmer back on the phone, and if Hannah was out in the field gleaning, she risked missing the opportunity to pick up the available food. Click here to read more

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Understanding the Challenges of a Slumping Farm Economy and its Impact on Connecticut

Guest Blog Post: By Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2)

Agriculture in the Northeast contributes $103 billion to local economies and supports roughly 480,000 jobs across the region. But like the rest of the farm economy, producers in Connecticut have been negatively impacted by slumping commodity prices and weak demand for their products.

Nationally, net farm income has dropped 56 percent in the last three years. In our state, dairy producers have faced similar challenges. According to the 2015 Northeast Dairy Farm Survey, profitability declined a staggering 99 percent from 2014. In that year household net income was $1,169 per cow, while at the end of 2015 it was $14 per cow. When non-farm income was subtracted, producers lost an average of $30 per cow. Click here to read more

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Survey on Farm Programs

With the 2014 Farm Bill in full effect and a new farm bill debate on the horizon, National Farmers Union is conducting a survey of family farmers and ranchers across the country to gain a greater understanding of the effectiveness of current farm bill programs.

As a farmer-led organization, we look to our diverse membership to advocate for policies that support family farmers here in New England. The survey will remain open through July 31, 2016, after which time responses will be collected and analyzed by NFU staff to establish policy proposals and engage partners for the upcoming farm bill debate. A vocal membership is one of many things that makes Farmers Union such a strong grassroots organization. Please take a moment to complete the survey.

We encourage you to share this survey widely. 

Begin Survey

Yesterday’s Farmers Union (1905)



















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Washington Corner

Read a roundup of July news from the capitol.
From National Farmers Union.

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Welcome New Farmers Union Members

Farm Members
Shepherd’s Gate Farm John and Jennifer Poirier
Jennifer and Russell Peotter
Cladrach Farm Gary and Kimberly Heald

Individual Members
Wendy Ashe
Loi Le

Organizational and Business Members
Hudson Valley Farm Hub

Tools for Growth

Check out our resources page, full of programs and services to help producers in our region. Here are upcoming educational programs that might interest you.

The Carrot Project
Making It Happen: Profitability and Success is a set of resources, case studies, workshops and webinars designed to help farmers understand and strategically implement a variety of financial management tools in order to increase the financial strength of their operations. Click here to view past webinars on basic accounting, QuickBooks and our financial calendar tool.

FSMA Decision Tree from the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets
This Survey Monkey tool will help you determine whether your farm is affected by new Food Safety Modernization Act rules.

Farm to Institution New England
FINE has introduced a the resource SETTING THE TABLE FOR SUCCESS: A Toolkit for Increasing Local Food Purchasing by Institutional Food Service Management. The toolkit covers the basics of how institutional purchasing works and offers guidance for using the food service request-for-proposal and contract process to guide institutions in sharing the responsibility of identifying and sourcing local food with their supply chain partners.

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Upcoming Events

Please check the calendar on the New England Farmers Union website. We will post information about events that we will attend, and events that are of interest to our members. Please send along information if you have an event you would like us to post.

2016 Annual Convention of the New England Farmers Union
Save the Date! Mark your calendars for our seventh annual convention to be held December 2-3 at the Hartford/Windsor Airport Marriott Hotel, in Windsor, CT.

Tractor Safety for Women Workshop July, 31 • Greenrich, RI

NOFA MA Summer Conference: Cultivating The Organic Grassroots Movement August, 12-14 • Amherst, MA

NESAWG’s It Takes A Region Conference November, 10-12 • Hartford, CT

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