It’s not the subway or even a thigh gap but Good Agricultural Practices Training, the first of a two day training on developing Food Safety Plans for our farm. It was great to chat with our fellow farmers, but otherwise not much fun, but it will soon be required by the FDA and we did learn a few things.
One thing that may surprise many new farmers is the amount of paperwork in farming! Some of it is a great idea to help us make better decisions on the farm. Others are just for the regulators and rather a waste on a small farm. But the auditors, lawyers & regulators mantra is “if you didn’t write it down, it didn’t happen” So we get templates for bathroom cleaning (even if it is the one in the house), and employee training (even if it is just the family), and lot codes (even if we have one field). This is a great reason to meet your fellow farmers and brainstorm, there are some great simply ways to keep these records and I’m hoping maybe some phone apps come out from some techo-savey farmers. Some checklists and basic forms that can be tied to invoicing, and all kept on the cloud instead of me trying to organize a bunch of papers. I’ll post our plan and forms as soon as they are finalized.
A final thought: To comply with the new FDA regs, they estimate it will cost small growers 6% of their gross sales. Most farms don’t even profit 6%. Couple this with that small farmers are not what is causing the food illnesses, and it is yet another set of regulations that will make it harder to be a direct market farmer. You cannot regulate in ethics. To me the best method to ensure food safety, humane animal care, it transparency and that is what we strive for here. You are welcome at the farm any time, unannounced, to see for yourself how things are done. And bottom line, we eat this food too, probably before most of our customers do, so we have every reason to provide for you as we provide for our family.
But we plan to continue on and hope to still spend most our time with farm rather than the paper!