Friday, May 23, 2014

Connectivity and Food Safety

The concept of “connectivity” and taking a whole systems approach to matters concerning food safety. 

In the following study of water usage conducted by the California Roundtable on Water and Food Supply (CRWFS), the concept of taking a whole systems approach to tackle an issue is examined. CAFF's policy director, Dave Runsten, is a member of CRWFS and brings the connectivity approach in to all of CAFF's policy work. Connectivity is a concept that can be applied when many parts of a system need to work together to overcome a roadblock. Matters of food safety concern the government, consumers, and food producers and must be dealt with efficiently and effectively. As seen with the latest Food Safety Modernization Act, there is a great need for food safety regulations that protect both the consumer and the farmer. Moving forward, it is important for us to look at food safety issues holistically.

Read more about this study and the concepts of “connectivity” and “connected benefits” here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Full Belly Newsletter Thanks CAFF

Our Yolo county neighbors, and friends, at Full Belly Farm wrote a flattering piece about CAFF in the March issue of their farm newsletter! Check out their newsletter, complete with recipes, or read the full text below. Thanks Full Belly!

News from the Farm | March 24, 2014

All of us at Full Belly Farm give thanks every day to our CSA members because we believe that our CSA program is not only a way for you to get great fruits and vegetables every week, but also a way for you to be more connected with us, your family farm. This week, if any of you want to deepen that connection beyond Full Belly and into the world of organizations working for change in food and agriculture across the state, we want to say just a few words about one of our favorite organizations, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF).

CAFF works directly with members, particularly family farmers, to increase the use and consumption of fresh, healthy, local food, and to help farms prosper. CAFF builds relationships between sellers and buyers, and also provides technical support to farmers, like production planning, connections with local markets, product line development, and food safety plans. It really seems to us that family farms are a cornerstone of healthy communities in many of the regions where CAFF works.

For several decades, CAFF has worked on-farm, supporting farmers as they increase their farm’s biodiversity, plant hedgerows, and reduce their use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Currently, CAFF’s dry farming program is working with growers as they try to use less water on their farms.
The bulk of CAFF’s programs are based in schools and hospitals, educating students and hospital staff about healthy eating through farm field trips, in-class lessons about vegetables and diet, and apprenticeship opportunities for older youth. These initiatives are focused on low-income schools and communities. They increase fresh food access by assisting school and hospital food service staff to get their food from local family farms. Students, teachers, patients, staff, and the wider community benefit from fresher, healthier food.

CAFF has been an advocate for family farmers for over 35 years. Food and farming are at the center of a lot of issues that we all care about – human health, environmental health, and community health, to name a few. CAFF’s policy program is currently working on climate change, farm land preservation, water use in agriculture, direct marketing regulations, and ‘food safety.’  That last one, ‘food safety,’ is all about helping farmers respond to a lot of crazy new rules that can be pretty burdensome when added together.  We want to make sure that 10 years from now, CSA members don’t look back and notice that local agriculture has withered on the vine because of all the regulatory ‘food safety’ hoops.

Just think about a few of the challenges we face: drought; climate change; chronic illnesses that are related to diet; population growth in California that threatens to put concrete on top of some of the best ag land in the world; not to mention the increasing power of chemical companies and genetic engineering advocates at all levels of our government. We need organizations that are dedicated to protecting the interests of CSA members and family farmers.  If you agree, please consider becoming a member of CAFF.  You can find out a lot more at  You can donate through the web site, or send a check to PO Box 363, Davis, California 95617.  Thank you!
~ Judith Redmond

Thursday, February 20, 2014

CAFF Food Safety Program highlights

The CAFF Food Safety Program continues to assist small and mid-sized farmers in developing and implementing their food safety plans.

Highlights from the past few months include CAFF:

• Developing approximately 25 food safety plans. Binders with CAFF information, “Farming with Food Safety and Conservation in Mind ” (a brochure developed by Wild Farm Alliance and CAFF), a biodiversity flier and a food safety checklist were also distributed to each of the farms.

• Providing food safety workshops in Willits, Morgan Hill, Davis and Kingsburg.

• Conducting outreach at the EcoFarm Conference: moderated three workshops and spoke at two of these.  Subjects were Food Safety, Slow Money and Homemade Food Act CFO. The CAFF table in the Exhibitor Marketplace was well attended by CAFF staff and interested passers.

• Mailing out an informational letter to direct market farmers in CA, which was received well enough to generate approximately five phone calls per day in January. These calls have generated a 6-week booking / wait list for food safety planning assistance as well as an increase in new CAFF farmer memberships.

• Contacting  buyers (such as Veritable Vegetable, Earl’s Organics) and meeting dates scheduled to discuss buyer food safety interests and requirements from farmers.

In addition, CAFF has been paying close attention to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
CAFF’s work with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition paid off as FDA has agreed to re-write some of the aspects of their food safety rules that we most objected to. We met with the FDA officials in Washington DC in late January and they were very conciliatory. But in any case we will have another chance to comment this summer after they issue their second draft.

We held FSMA workshops with farmers in Chico, Watsonville, San Luis Obispo, Davis, and Santa Barbara, in collaboration with Wild Farm Alliance and CCOF, to discuss the proposed rules and encourage people to comment to FDA. FDA received over 20,000 comments on FSMA.

If you have questions about any of these activities, please contact Dave Runsten at

To comment on this post, click on the "comments:" link that appears below (after "Posted by CAFF").  If you have questions about how to comment, please email

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Food Safety Modernization Act: Deadline to Comment is now November 22

The comment period on FDA's proposed rules for the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) now closes on November 22. If you are a farmer who produces fruits, vegetables, or nuts, or your farm processes any kind of food, this law will affect you. It will be particularly valuable for farmers to submit comments to the FDA as the rules were not written by farmers and do not take into account all of the situations found on farms. The FDA needs to hear from you about how these regulations might affect your business and your ability to farm.

We have put on the CAFF website links to the two main rules (Produce Rule and Preventive Controls Rule) as well as detailed instructions about how to comment to FDA. We have also posted links to a series of issue briefs on the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's (NSAC) web site that discuss some aspects of the rules that might most concern farmers, as well as all of the other materials we are handing out at workshops.

Non-farmers can find a comment template on the NSAC website.  

If you have any questions, please contact Dave Runsten at

To comment on this post, click on the "comments:" link that appears below (after "Posted by CAFF").  If you have questions about how to comment, please email or call 530.756.8518x12.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


If you eat food – that’s all of us! – you should be concerned about the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s new Food Safety laws, which unfairly target local food efforts, undermine sustainable and organic practices, and will reduce access to fresh, local food in your community.

The FDA is implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) which was passed by Congress in 2010.

They are issuing five rules, two of which are of great concern to U.S. farmers: the Produce Rule and the Preventive Controls Rule.

Join us in weighing in with FDA today.

Our website has information about how you can comment:

CAFF will also be holding informational workshops for farmers, to discuss how to comment to the FDA and answer questions.
October 18, 3pm, TS Glide Ranch, Davis, CA 
October 24, 3pm, California Grill, Freedom, CA  
November 4,1pm, Glenn County Farm Bureau Office, Orland, CA 
November 8, 6:30pm, San Luis Obispo Grange, San Luis Obispo 
November 11, 5:00pm, Watershed Resource Center, Santa Barbara

To comment on this post, click on the "comments:" link that appears below (after "Posted by CAFF").  If you have questions about how to comment, please email or call 530.756.8518x12.