Should crop and livestock farmers be concerned about food safety?

Emerging food safety issues pose opportunity for farmers. What is going on in the food industry that will affect farmers?

Food safety should be on the radar of all farmers and agribusiness professionals. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 48 million, or one in six, people in the United States are sickened, annually, by food. Vegetable and fruit farmers regularly address food safety issues through buyer audits and implement interventions to improve food safety. Crop and livestock farmers need to be aware of how their business may be impacted by food safety control measures, now and in the near future.

The Growing Michigan Agriculture Conference hosted by Michigan State University Extension on January 24, 2013 at the Lansing Center is designed to bring cutting edge information to farmers and professionals in agriculture. New and reemerging food safety issues will impact Michigan agricultural businesses now and into the future. Dr. Julie Funk, assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at MSU and food safety expert, will discuss those issues with attendees. She will update attendees on changes in the food industry structure that will increase scrutiny and provide opportunities for how our food is produced, distributed, processed and prepared.

As technology advances and detection methods improve, reported outbreaks associated with food safety will likely increase. On-farm production practices will come under more scrutiny in the future. When a food safety incident occurs, there is an impact on the food economy and part of that filters down to the farm level. More and more companies are requiring stricter standards that farmers must meet in order to sell their product, above and beyond public standards regulated by government.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) passed in January 2011 is designed to focus on food safety prevention rather than reaction by FDA. The Act encompasses everything from food inspection and product tracing to food imports and food defense. Farmers, and not just food processors, who have been preparing for various implementation components of FSMA for over a year, need to know about food safety and what changes are coming via the Food Safety Modernization Act.

Register today for the Growing Michigan Agriculture Conference to find out how your farm and business might be impacted by food safety. The conference registration fee is $50 and includes lunch. You can register electronically by visiting, or you can contact Megghan Honke at 517-353-3175, ext. 229.

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