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Survey released on trade offs between on-farm food safety and conservation practices

January 21, 2020  By Fruit and Vegetable

A group of researchers at Cornell University, the University of California, and the University of Rochester are working on a project to understand and model trade-offs between food safety and conservation practices used on fresh produce farms.

The aim of the project is to help farmers develop management plans that minimize costs and optimize food safety and conservation outcomes.

Daniel Weller (University of Rochester), Aaron Adalja (Cornell University) and Patrick Baur (University of California-Berkeley) are the leads for the project. They were motivated by recent studies that suggested on-farm food safety practices can have unexpected economic and ecological impacts, but there was limited data available when it came to the costs and benefits to implementing specific safety practices. The researchers feel that it’s important to understand on-farm decisions given the ability for farms to have an impact on their surrounding environments.


The project will identify grower costs associated with various farm practices and the information will be used to create a model that quantifies trade-offs between different grower aims including food safety, conservation and profit. This model will then be used to develop guidelines for how to best co-manage produce farms for these aims.

The group is seeking grower input to make sure their models accurately reflect grower practices, costs and needs and have released a survey for fruit and vegetable growers in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast United States. The survey is 100 percent anonymous and the researchers are offering a $15 e-giftcard to the first 300 participants as an incentive.

The survey asks for information on how monetary and labour costs are associated with on-farm food safety, agricultural water use and treatment, pest management and conservation practices. The survey also provides an opportunity for participating farmers to report any obstacles or difficulties they have encountered. The survey is available online and takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes to complete.

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