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Bilingual Food Safety Training for Southeast Asian and Latino Small-Scale Farms

Project Director: Ruth Dahlquist-Willard – University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources

Small-scale Southeast Asian and Latino farmers growing both specialty and mainstream vegetables, face legal risk under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). While farms selling at farmers’ markets may be qualified exempt, many small farms sell primarily to wholesale packing houses and need to be fully covered by FSMA and subject to on-farm inspections. The legal and financial impact of FSMA will be greatest on fully covered small farms, including many immigrant and refugee farmers in Fresno County whose primary language is Spanish or Hmong.

The goal of this project was to conduct workshop and one-on-one trainings on food safety to assist small-scale farmers in achieving compliance with FSMA and other food safety requirements. The team adapted activities to address new risks and challenges during COVID-19. On-farm socially distanced workshops were conducted, with farmers rotating in small groups for training. Remote technical assistance was provided to address food safety compliance questions. In addition, the team provided essential support to Southeast Asian strawberry stands through distribution of masks and sanitizing supplies; as well as posting signs for safety guidelines, social distancing and other safety measures for farm stand customers.

Small-scale farmers received training in English, Spanish, and Hmong on food safety requirements as well as new guidelines for operating safely during COVID-19.

As a result of this project 17 participants understood FSMA and how it would impact farms of all sizes; 15 understood which category of FSMA their operations fell under; 12 adopted GAPs and achieved FSMA Compliance and 14 developed food safety plans and record-keeping.

“The printed guidelines were helpful because the guidelines let the customers know what was to be expected of them.”– Participant

“Posting the signs helped a lot, it kept customers from touching produce and they wore masks.”-Participant