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Networking on food safety for the smaller farm

Increasing international competition in the agricultural sector can create difficulties for the smaller operator in areas like environmental consciousness and pricing strategies. An EU-funded project has come to the rescue.
Networking on food safety for the smaller farm
A European project has provided a support package for farmers to cope with increasing competition in the sector combined with lower income. Particularly affected are the small and medium-sized farms that can find it difficult in view of the introduction of an international market.

Farms must compete in terms of quality and safety of products as well as having to comply with environmental regulations whilst cost saving. The Infood Network project worked to enable farms to overcome obstacles preventing them from reaching a better position in the global market. Obstacles can also prevent farmers from observing increasingly stringent environmental legislation.

A first step was to accumulate data through questionnaires. This revealed that most of the farms surveyed were large but even so, findings pointed to scant knowledge and interest in related environmental issues.

Infood Network set up a website to improve eco-consciousness and provide the incentive to tackle food safety and environmental issues. As such, the website was a vehicle to disseminate project findings and encourage networking. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SME's) could become members online as well as network affiliates.

Posts involved adoption of best practices adapted to farmers' needs. Suggested methodologies allowed for analysis and nature of environmental, safety and traceability issues as well as adoption of appropriate solutions.

Infood Network has provided a valuable resource for European farmers enabling them to compete on an international basis. Success in this arena prompted a proposal to develop a similar network covering animal husbandry.

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