By: Kathryn Kavanagh, Food Safety Project Coordinator
Minnesota Farmers Union (MFU) works to protect and enhance the economic interests and quality of life of family farmers, ranchers, and rural residents, incorporating legislative advocacy, education, and cooperation into all they do. Their work ranges from programs like Minnesota Foodshed, Minnesota Cooks, and youth summer camps all the way to cross-state collaborative food safety education. Minnesota Farmers Union supports family farmers from soil to seed to safety, and beyond! We spoke with Julia Wickham, MFU Legislative Coordinator and Food Safety Project Manager, for her take on what is good and growing in the food safety world.
What is something you love about Minnesota farmers?
JW: I love that Minnesota farmers are willing to grow and adapt their operations to meet the needs of a changing climate, expanding markets, and consumer needs.
What motivates you to do food safety work?
JW: MFU wants to give Minnesota farmers the best tools and resources to grow their businesses, as well as to provide safe and reliable food for families. Good food safety management is good farm management.
What kinds of projects are you working on?
JW: MFU is proud to partner with National Farmers Union to help reach underserved audiences with food safety education. Hmong and Spanish-speaking growers play a unique and important role in Minnesota agriculture, and we’ve been lucky to work with the University of Minnesota to translate essential food safety resources for these communities. We’re also working with UMN and a Humboldt High School tech class, creating design templates for building produce washing stations. These wash stations will be distributed to limited resource farmers, while the plans will be shared so growers can build their own low-cost stations that help improve produce safety infrastructure on their farms. It’s a great example of community collaboration!
Is there anything you’d like to see more of in the food safety world?
JW: Collaboration among producers to share the best, most efficient tips and tricks they use on-farm to implement food safety practices!
If you could give a farmer one piece of food safety advice, what would it be?
JW: Brag about the food safety practices and systems you have in place to your customers! It means a lot to buyers—from families to restaurants—that you as a farmer are taking important steps to ensure your products are safe and reliable.
For more food safety resources, visit the National Farmers Union’s Local Food Safety Collaborative website along with the Food Safety Resource Clearinghouse for a curated source of food safety guides, factsheets, templates, and more. Don’t forget to follow LFSC on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the latest food safety news.
This work is supported by the Food Safety Outreach Program [grant no. 2020-70020-33022] from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.