California Agricultural Neighbors

California Agricultural Neighbors

California Agricultural Neighbors (CAN) was established in 2021 in response to continued outbreaks of pathogenic Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7 associated with leafy greens in the Salinas Valley. California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and Monterey County Farm Bureau (MCFB) have led efforts to foster collaboration and discussion to protect public health through efforts shared among the production, processing, retail industry, agricultural industry, and regulatory entities to address the following action items:

Action 1: Foster Neighbor-to-Neighbor Interactions and Conversations

Action 2: Build a Research Roadmap for the Salinas Valley

Action 3: Create a Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) Framework

Action 4: Build and Maintain Capacity to Transfer Knowledge from Research into Applied Practice

CAN brought together vested stakeholders within the Salinas Valley agriculture community in discussions surrounding farm and rangeland management practices and potential risks for exposure to field-grown crops adjacent to rangeland, compost operations, or vineyards. A year-long commitment of CAN Dialogue Group engagement led to the published CAN Action Report in June 2022, noted below for download.

Work Groups were formed around these four actions with participation from field crop growers, rangeland managers, vineyard managers, compost operators, agricultural organizations, and food safety acadamia and government agency representatives.  This collaborative effort has led to insights about risk intersections, informational gaps, and the need for extensive research into food pathogen persistance in the environment, transmission of those pathogens through various pathways, and preventative measures that can be put into practice.

CAN efforts are supported through the California Farm Bureau Federation, California Cattlemen’s Association, Western Growers Association, and the Leafy Green Marketing Agreement to help with facilitation services provided by RESOLVE.

    CAN was formed with three key goals in mind:

    1. Identify practices for agriculture neighbors that can potentially help enhance food safety and improve public health and trust.
    2. Document the broader challenges of the California regulatory landscape that impacts produce growers, cattle ranchers, vineyard managers, compost processors, and wildlife management differently, and that may result in regulatory silos with competing or conflicting demands with produce food safety practices.
    3. Develop accurate messaging to enhance education and adoption of continuously improving food safety practices founded in science, while acknowledging that simple neighborly courtesy measures of communication can have beneficial, lasting impacts.

    CAN helped create the foundation for a food safety framework throughout California by enhancing communication among the agricultural communities through scientific insights and enhanced food safety education and action. Additional updates of Action 1 to 4 workgroup efforts will be made available in the Summer 2024.

    ACTION REPORT – JUNE 2022

    Click here to view “California Agricultural Neighbors: Neighbor-to-Neighbor Best Practices to Help Enhance Localized Food Safety Efforts

    Click here to view a one-page summary of the food safety actions outlined in the report.

    CAN held three webinars on topics identified as needing more expert information and background; click the following links to view the recorded webinars hosted by the California Farm Bureau Federation in partnership with the Monterey County Farm Bureau and CDFA:

    Reservoirs of E. coli O157:H7 and other STEC – presented on June 30, 2021 – view the video of this webinar here

    Off-farm factors that may affect STEC movement on the landscape – presented on July 7, 2021 – view the video of this webinar here

    On-farm factors that may affect STEC survival and contact with produce – presented on July 14. 2021 – view the video of this webinar here