Food Protection

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FPE Research

FPE Research Recommendations in Educating Food Producers Vital to Food Supply Protection Aylin Sayir, NCFPD, Michigan State University

Food Protection Education Background:

Food producers (or farmers) are an essential part of the economy, food supply and cultural heritage. While understanding the food supply in its entirety can provide knowledge leading to a safer and more successful food industry, it is vital to begin at the farm. Food producers form the first integral part of the management of the food supply of the country.

Food Protection Vulnerability of the farm-setting:

Several incidents illustrate the vulnerability of farms to many different threats, both intentional and unintentional. - BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) or Mad Cow disease outbreak in England (1996) - Theft of chemicals, such as anhydrous ammonia, from farms for producing methamphetamines - Accidental contamination of feed with PBB (Polybrominated biphenyls) in Michigan in 1973 resulted in the destruction of thousands of cattle, swine, sheep, and chickens. The long-term health effects of its consumption are still being studied today. - Numerous educational programs, such as the WIFSS (Western Institute Food Safety & Security) agroterorrism awareness training program, illustrate the vulnerability of U.S. farms to Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).

Food Protection Research findings: 

These examples and others found in relevant literature point out the need for regular communication with food producers in order to enhance their ability to make changes and informed decisions with greater ease and success. Raising awareness of new practices and new information can create a more positive attitude regarding the acceptance of new information and the implementation of new practices. 

Food Protection Literature Review:

Prior to this study, an existing comprehensive summary of the current literature was not available. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and other agencies have been funding research in food safety and protection to further the safety of the supply chain from farm-to-fork. To accomplish this aim, it becomes necessary to examine the best way to access participants along the chain and determine effective and efficient ways for reaching each group.

Food Protection Important variables when studying farmers:

Current literature shows that certain variables are important in determining the most effective methods for communication specifically with farmers. However, more research needs to be done in order to flesh out the specifics of each variable and other potential variables. · Information-seeking behavior – source preference, presentation of information materials (e.g. pamphlet, flyer, online, training class, book, etc.). · Educational background – the highest level of education achieved by food producer · Economic Impact – the financial impact a change in behavior would have on the farm or on production. · Innovativeness (or willingness to change or adopt to change) – Each food producer’s willingness to change behavior. In other words, some are more likely to change their behavior quickly while others might be more likely to hesitate in changing their behavior. · Technology – Personal or business computer and its uses – Availability, usage & understanding

Segmenting food producers as an audience:

Research (Rice & Atkin, 2000) has shown that the most successful communication campaigns conduct an audience assessment and segment audiences accordingly. This should be done prior to developing a campaign or communicating with the given audience. By segmenting food producers, communication materials can be specific to their needs and therefore, be more effective. The variables listed below are segmentation suggestions based on previous research. Further research could determine the best variable for any particular issue. · Type of farm (i.e. dairy, vegetable, livestock etc.) · Size of farm (i.e. acreage, profits) · Educational Background · Technology · Location – Geographical & Accessibility of farm

Food Protection Packaging of Educational Materials:

Visual presentation of materials is an invaluable part of a communication campaign. While further research is needed to understand general guidelines on educational materials (e.g. visual appeal and ease of consumption) and how they resonate with producers, specific recommendations include: · Producers will pay more attention to appropriately packaged and marketed materials. This, in turn, can increase their likelihood of attending a program or receptivity. For example, “Agricultural” or “Technical” skills training has been shown to have greater appeal versus “Land” or “Risk” management because of the cost-benefit analysis on face value Communication methods for reaching producers Common and successful ways to communicate with the production community include: · Extension agencies – There may be an existing relationship through extension agencies, or perhaps a level of trust because of its tie to a university. · On-site – Going to a production site or community means that the food producer does not have to travel or leave their place of work. · Snowballing - Asking attendees to bring a friend. By reaching one food producer and asking him/her to invite a food producer friend or neighbor, attendance will increase rapidly

FPE Conclusion: 

Further research is required to adequately understand the communication and education with producers. Across the literature, the aforementioned variables have proven to be a factor in food producer information seeking behavior and behavior in general. However, there have not been clear and definitive results showing exactly how each variable affects farmer behavior and information seeking behavior.

FPE References:

Austin, E.J., Willock, J., Deary, I.J., Gibson, G.J., Dent, J.B., Edwards-Jones, G., Morgan, ., Grieve, R., & Sutherland, A. (1998). Empirical models of farmer behaviour using psychological, social and economic variables. Part I: linear modeling. Agricultural Systems, 58(2), 203-224. Batz, F.J., Peters, K.J., Janssen, W. (1999). The influence of technology characteristics on the rate and speed of adoption. Agricultural Economics, 21, 121-130. Breetz, H.L., Fisher-Vanden, K., Jacobs, H., & Schary, C. (2005). Trust and communication: mechanisms for increasing farmers’ participation in water quality trading. Land Economics, 81(2), 170-190. Flett, R., Alpass, F., Humphries, S., Massey, C., Morriss, S., & Long, N. (2003). The technology acceptance model and use of technology in New Zealand dairy farming. Agricultural Systems, 80, 199-211. Gomez, E.D. (1976). Radio programs and their impact on multiple cropping: A preliminary evaluation, Journal of Agricultural Economic Development, 6(2), 197-207. Hall, D.C., Ehui, S., & Delgado, C. (2004). The livestock revolution, food safety, and small-scale farmers: why they matter to us all. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 17, 425-444. Kaplan, M., Liu, S., & Radhakrishna, R. (2003). Intergenerational programming in extension: Needs assessment as planning tool, Journal of Extension, 43(4), Retrieved November 12, 2005 from Kilpatrick, S., & Rosenblatt, T. (1998). Information vs. training: issues in farmer learning. The Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension, 5(1), 39-50. Mariger, S.C., & Kelsey, K.D. (2003). Disengaged farmers: The land grant system’s overlooked clientele. Journal of Southern Agricultural Education Research, 53(1), 100-112. Marshall, M.I., Bush, D., & Hayes, K. (2005). Extension programming for food entrepreneurs: an Indiana needs assessment. Journal of Extension, 43(5), Article 5RIB8. Retrieved December 14, 2005 from Michigan Department of Community Health. PBBs (polybrominated biphenyls) in Michigan. Retrieved April 11, 2006 from Pollard, S.J.T., Brookes, A., Earl, N., Lowe, J., Kearney, T., & Nathanail, C.P. (2004). Integrating decision tools for the sustainable management of land contamination, Science of the Total Environment, 325, 15-28. Rice, R.E., & Atkin, C.A. (2000). Public communication campaigns (3rd.ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Schneider, R.L., & Smallidge, P.J. (2000). Assessing extension educator needs in New York to address natural resource issues for the new millennium. Journal of Extension, 38(3). Retrieved December, 14 2005 from Turvey, C.G. (1991). Environmental quality constraints and farm-level decision making. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 73(5), 1399-1404. Unnevehr, L.J., Miller, G.Y., & Gomez, M. (1999). Ensuring food safety and quality in farm-level production: emerging lessons from the pork industry. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 81(5), 1096-1101. Vanbaale, M.J., Galland, J.C., Hyatt, D.R., & Milliken, G.A. (2003). A survey of dairy producer practices and attitudes pertaining to dairy market beef food safety. Food Protection Trends, 23(6), 466-473.