Status

  • Producer & Buyer Requirements & Solution Research underway.

Table of Contents

 

Project Vision

To research, select, and pilot test, affordable, easy to implement, and easy to use digital traceability solutions for small-scale produce growers, in order to meet FDA and market-enforced food traceability requirements.

 

Project Objectives

The objectives of the proposed project are:

  1. To ascertain the current maturity of traceability systems by Vermont produce growers.
  2. To understand the digital technology requirements and constraints for Vermont growers.
  3. To research digital traceability solutions for produce growers that are currently available.
  4. To develop a short list of digital traceability solution(s) that fit the business and technology requirements of Vermont produce growers.
  5. To pilot test the short list of digital produce traceability solutions.
  6. To rollout a program of training and technical assistance for produce growers to facilitate the adoption of produce traceability solutions.

 

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Project Phases

The planned project phases are

  1. Grower & Buyer Requirements (Nov 2014 - Jan 2016)
  2. Solution Research (Dec 2015 - Feb 2016)
  3. Solution Selection (Feb - Mar 2016)
  4. Pilot Testing (Mar - Oct 2016)
  5. Initial Rollout (Nov 2016 - April 2017)

 

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Project Introduction

The Vermont Digital Traceability for Produce Growers project is focused on produce traceability on Vermont farms, an increasingly important business need.   Traceability is an important link between producers, distributors, and buyers.

The impending Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will likely make traceability law for some produce growers and most value-added processors, nearly all of whom do not yet have any written or electronic system for collecting the necessary information to trace food products back to the source.  And while some Vermont produce growers may be exempt from FSMA rules due to their small size, wholesale buyers are already starting to demand produce traceability because of consumer concerns and pressure, and these market demands will continue to develop across the wholesale market, driven by food safety liability concerns and insurance company requirements.  In addition, food traceability market demands are being driven by ingredient certifications such as organic, kosher, and GMO labeling.

Most produce growers do not have sufficient food traceability systems to meet these emerging requirements.  This will likely need to change in the coming era of increased food traceability requirements and is why we are reaching out to you for your assistance in joining us in making this effort a success for Vermont and the farms we support.

Most Vermont produce growers do not have the financial means or time to thoroughly research tools and techniques to find the solutions to comply with the requirements of the pending legislation and market demands.  Also, it is unknown what solutions are available which are affordable by the Vermont growers, while also meeting their business and technology constraints.

The Vermont Digital Traceability Project for Produce Growers will address these challenges.

This project will build upon the work of the Vermont Lot Tracking Project, which was initiated in January 2013.  That project was primarily focused on value-added processors, successfully leading to the pilot testing and operational adoption of an innovative digital solution with food businesses at the Mad River Food Hub and the Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE) Vermont Food Venture Center.  Other Vermont food businesses are now adopting this solution on their own and, in some cases, with grant funding for technical assistance.  You can learn more about the value-added processor lot tracking work on the Vermont Food Safety Task Force website at: http://vt.foodprotectiontaskforce.com/resources/lottracking/

The Vermont Digital Traceability Project for Produce Growers project was originally scheduled to begin in October 2014 and complete in the spring of 2016, about 18 months in duration.  There was a one year delay in getting the project started, so the new timeline is to complete the project in the spring of 2017.  The project will include research of grower and buyer requirements, selection of good candidate solutions based on market research and the grower requirements, pilot testing with growers during the 2015 growing season, and initial roll-out of the solution with training and technical assistance in the winter-spring of 2016-2017.

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Acknowledgements & Thanks

Financial Support for this project provided by:

USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program,
administered by the State of Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets

 

     

Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program
a program of Vermont Housing and Conservation Board (VHCB)

 

The John Merck Fund

High Meadows Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation

 

The Wallace Center, part of Winrock International

 

Black River Produce

 

Northeast Organic Farmers Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT)

 

 

University of Vermont Extension, Center for Sustainable Agriculture

 

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Contact

If you have any comments, feedback, idea, questions, or any other thoughts related to the project, please send us a message using the contact form.

Or send email or call:

Stan Ward, Project Manager
P.O. Box 293
Waitsfield, VT 05673
office: 802-583-FOOD
mobile: 802-595-3232
email: stan [at] stanward [dot] com

 

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