August 4, 2011
The Wild Farm Alliance (WFA), in collaboration with Community Alliance with Family Farmers, has released a new brochure, Farming With Food Safety and Conservation in Mind, that provides an overview of how producers can co-manage the goals food safety and wildlife conservation through their farming practices. Unfortunately, outbreaks of food-borne illness in recent years have led to scrutiny of wildlife on farms due to the perceived risk that they may potentially carry food-borne pathogens.
The guide addresses the need for on-farm food safety practices while presenting evidence that conservation practices and natural areas can often reduce pathogen risk while providing many other benefits, such as soil and water conservation, and habitat for pollinators and beneficial insects.
Because many regulators, product outlets, and forms of farm insurance rely on assumptions of potential risk when making decisions about a particular farm, it is important to demonstrate that food safety and conservation farming practices can be mutually beneficial rather than in opposition. In fact, the guide points out, conservation practices such as cover crops or strips of vegetation near open water actually greatly reduce the e. coli bacteria count in the water.
The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010 requires the Food and Drug Administration to consult with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Fish and Wildlife Service and others to ensure that federal food safety regulations do not conflict with conservation and environmental standards and requirements. NSAC, Wild Farm Alliance, and others fought for inclusion of conservation and wildlife-friendly provisions, sponsored by Senators Harkin (D-IA) and Boxer (D-CA), in the new law.