Writing a Farm Description for your Farm Food Safety Plan


Farm in Wisconsin

Start with A Farm Description— End with a Great Farm Food Safety Plan

Writing your Farm Description is a smart strategy for getting started on your Farm Food Safety Plan (FFSP), a useful and important farm planning, management, and food safety tool. An FFSP is not required for farms whether they are covered by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule or not, but there are many benefits of a well-written plan.

Farm Food Safety Plan Benefits

A current FFSP helps growers organize farm documents, identify risks and outline actions to lessen or eliminate them, define best practices and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), and prepare staff for any questions that may arise from buyers or regulators. It gathers a lot of important and detailed farm information that will help with maintaining and improving efficiency, quality, and food safety on your farm.

Where Do I Start?

It can seem overwhelming at first, but an easy and key beginning step to writing an FFSP is writing the “Farm Description”.  Start with the farm description section by documenting essential information about your farm.  Include the following items for a comprehensive farm description:

  • The farm name, address, and description.
  • The year the farm was started.
  • A farm mission statement (if you have one).
  • Contact information for the farm owner, farm manager, supervisors, attorneys, and any other key personnel.
  • Who oversees food safety on the farm.
  • Supplier and buyer information.
  • Contact information for contracted services.
  • What the property has previously been used for.
  • Farm maps.
  • Crop(s)/Livestock grown on the property (acres owned, leased, contracted, or consigned for each crop).
  • What is on adjacent properties.
  • Acres not in production.
  • Physical buildings operated in conjunction with this farm’s operations, such as packing house square footage.

Your own Farm Description can be as simple as the example below or depending on the size and complexity of your farm business, it may contain additional details about contractors and animals/crops/other uses of adjacent land.

Sample Farm Description:

 

Hypothetical Farm

698 Sample Lane

Candia, NH

Small family farm specializing in mixed vegetables and tree fruits. The farm was started in 2015.

Farm Owner: Jane Farmer - (603) XXX-XXXX

Farm Manager and Food Safety Overseer: Joe Grower - (603) XXX-XXXX

Attorney: Judy Law Esq. - (603) XXX-XXXX

Food Processing Contractors: The “Can-Do Canners”: Jake Cann – (603) XXX-XXXX

Ag Chemical Supplier (Farm supplies, fertilizers & agricultural chemicals): Ag Supply Co. (603) XXX-XXXX

Our farm is dedicated to providing our customers and community members with fresh grown produce that is produced safely and efficiently.  We grow 4 acres of vegetables and have 2 acres of apple and pear trees.  We also own 10 acres of land not currently in production. 

Prior to farming, the property was a residential property used as an orphanage. We have two buildings: a wash/pack house that is 700 square feet in size, and a storage shed that is 500 square feet.

All surrounding properties are residential, single-family houses.

[Insert farm map here]

 

Ready for the Next Steps?

Once the Farm Description is completed, you will have made a strong start to work on the remaining parts of your Farm Food Safety Plan. This may include your pre- and post-harvest risk assessments and plans, training and cleaning logs, water quality monitoring results and more. Written a piece at a time, a completed Farm Food Safety Plan can streamline your tracking of important farm activities, making them more easily monitored and managed.

The Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) website offers a number of helpful resources, such as templates and examples by specific commodity, to guide you.  Visit the PSA Website here.

Contact your UNH Extension FSMA Team

Have more questions or need help with writing your Farm Description, or other parts of your Farm Food Safety Plan? Please contact a member of the UNH Extension FSMA Team.

Author(s)

Mary Choate
Food Safety Field Specialist
Assoc Field Specialist
Phone: 603-787-6944
Office: Cooperative Extension, Taylor Hall, Durham, NH 03824

Dan Birnstihl
Former Food & Agriculture Program Assistant