The Desert Farming Initiative and Nevada Department of Agriculture provide specialized training, education, and outreach to farmers who serve fresh produce markets in the State. This survey was conducted to inform extension activities regarding Food Safety Modernization Act compliance and third party audits (such as a Good Agricultural Practices certification). This survey was intended for owners or operators of farms that grow fruit and vegetables that are typically consumed raw (not cooked or fermented) and sold in Nevada. Survey participation was voluntary and responses were submitted in January and February 2020. Below is a summary of results; read more in the full survey report (edited to protect privacy of respondents). There were a total of 33 responses.
1. Farm size: Nearly 85% of farms were less than 5 acres (56% were 0-1 acre and 28% were 2-5 acres).
2. Farm income from produce sales in 2019: More than 70% made $0-25,000.
3. Market area: Just over 50% sell within 275 miles and in Nevada.
4. Organic certification: 16% are certified organic.
5. Produce safety training in past 2 years: Approximately 65% have not received produce safety training.
6. Food safety plan: 60% have a food safety plan.
7. Use of DFI questionnaire: 15% have used the questionnaire.
8. Desire for a food safety plan: More than 50% of farms that do not have one do or may want one.
9. Implementing practices because of training: Greater than 60% have implemented practices due to food safety training or planning.
10. Limits to implementation of practices: Nearly a quarter of farms lack financial resources. 15-20% said a lack of time, knowledge, and equipment were limiting, but most said nothing limits their implementation of produce safety practices.
11. Water testing: Most are testing or rely on municipal water; 25% do not test and are not planning to to test agricultural water for contamination in 2020.
12. Needed information: The key topics of information desired are composting and soil amendments (over 50%), managing wildlife (34%), water testing and corrective actions (31%), and traceability (28%).
13. Needed training: Produce safety in relation to small to medium farms (65%), specific crops (45%), regenerative or soil health (39%), and farms with mixed plant and animal production (32%) were the top training needs identified.
14. Needed samples or templates: All topics were of interest (selected by more than 20%) other than post harvest water treatment, pesticide safety and mock recalls.
15. Funding needed: If funding is needed, the range required is $0-1,000.
16. Other support needed: See list in full survey results.
17. Specific support requested: The top categories were upcoming workshops (77%), DFI food safety newsletter – Wash House News (59%), an informal food safety visit from DFI (31%), and Produce Safety Alliance training (27%).
Survey conducted by the Desert Farming Initiative at the University of Nevada, Reno Experiment Station and the Nevada Department of Agriculture. Funding for this project was made possible in part by the Food and Drug Administration through grant PAR-16-137.