Crop, Stock & Ledger: Producing safer fresh produce by good practices

Crop, Stock & Ledger: Producing safer fresh produce by good practices

By Doug Gucker

Do you garden, grow or sell fresh produce? Food safety begins on the farm.

For fresh fruit and vegetable producers, this is particularly important because most of the fresh produce they grow is eaten raw.

The University of Illinois Extension is teaming with University of Cornell Extension and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to offer a GAPs (Good Agricultural Practices) workshop from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 25 at the Macon County Extension office, 3351 N. President Howard Brown Blvd., Decatur.

The purpose of this training is to keep fresh fruit and vegetable producers in Illinois competitive in the marketplace. The increasing GAPs and third-party audit requirements are being used by the retail and the food service industry to identify growers who have implemented GAPs and have a verified farm food safety plan. These growers are getting their business.

Producers and/or their managers will benefit from attending this workshop to become GAPs-certified. This program will provide an overview of GAPs (produce safety issues and impacts), a vegetable retailer presentation on concerns about food safety, and information about good handling practices, food defense protocols in the food chain, self-auditing farms for food safety, crisis and risk management, and writing a food safety plan.

Cost per participant is $15. Pre-registration is required by Thursday. Lunch and light refreshments will be provided. Register online at or by calling 877-6042. For program particulars, please contact me at 877-6042 or

University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please call 877-6042.

Two-day workshop for beef producers

Academic and industry professionals will put cattle producers through their paces at the Beef & Beyond workshop March 21 and 22 at the UI. Sponsored by the Illinois Beef Association and the UI, this interactive educational program offers insight into all aspects of the cattle industry and delivers management tips that can help producers stay profitable.

Hands-on activities will offer participants a chance to learn new skills and sharpen existing ones related to genetic selection, feed efficiency, carcass quality and general cattle management. Speakers will focus on creating value through improved management techniques.

Friday afternoon breakout sessions will allow producers to learn more about genetic selection for carcass improvement, beef's impact in a global economy, and feed efficiency and research findings at the UI.

Saturday morning brings exciting hands-on demonstrations related to meat safety, carcass fabrication and new beef cuts, and determining quality and yield grades on the rail.

A cattle-handling demonstration will be held Saturday afternoon.

Beef producers interested in expanding their knowledge of the total beef industry should register by Monday. A $75 registration fee covers the cost of meals and educational materials. Download the registration form at and contact Shelia Stannard at 787-4280 with questions.

Keep track of pesticide with new app

The Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Pesticide and Field Records app is now available to Android operating system phone and tablet users.

The app, previously only available for iPads, was developed to help producers and agriculture businesses record and maintain pesticide application information.

The free app allows users to link information to specific field locations using satellite mapping and document pesticide application information needed to comply with state and federal record keeping requirements. The app also has a product search option that lists Environmental Protection Agency product registration numbers and identifies restricted-use products.

Development of the app was funded by the ISU Extension and Outreach Pest Management and the Environment program and a grant from the EPA under assistance of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship Pesticide Bureau. The app can be downloaded from Google Play for Android operating systems and from iTunes for iPads.

Doug Gucker is educator for local food systems and small farms at the University of Illinois Extension, DeWitt/Macon/Piatt unit. You can reach him at 877-6042 or

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Topics (1):Agriculture