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Risk Management and Food Safety

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We encourage farms and food businesses to consider risk management and food safety as they plan to expand their sales to schools and other institutions. 

In this section, learn more about:

The same regulations apply to schools as to any other market, and farms should be familiar with the requirements for selling their products.  Additionally, some institutions may have additional requirements for certifications or insurance than some other direct markets.  Farm to School is a new business model for many farms - ensuring farm and business practices that reduce risk is critical to the ongoing success of these projects.

Schools, childcare centers, hospitals, and other institutional buyers are asking questions about regulations, food safety and liability as they consider local sourcing of food products. They may ask for documentation that food is grown and handled safely on the farm. The may also require that farms have product liability insurance to protect them and their customers.

Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs)
Good Agricultural Practices are a voluntary set of food-safety guidelines designed to help farmers handle food safety from the farm to the market. These practices include:

  • Developing a food safety plan for the farm
  • Training farm employees about this plan and farm food safety practices
  • Documenting farm practices to reduce the risk of dangerous bacteria or toxins on farm products

WSDA has been working on a project called Bridging the GAPs to identify and share best practices relating to on-farm food safety for growers operating small, mid-sized and diversified fruit and vegetable farms in Washington State. The project team conducts education internally with auditors about small and diversified farming operations, and externally with the farming community about examples of safe growing practices that meet the GAP certification standards to provide information and support for those working on food safety planning and considering a GAP/GHP audit, specifically on smaller or more diversified farms. WSDA seeks to engage growers throughout the project by soliciting questions, concerns and examples of successful solutions to guide the work. Check out this Bridging the GAPs video to learn more about the project and Good Agricultural Practices.


Product Liability Insurance
Product Liability Insurance is a tool a farm can buy to protect the farmer and farm from financial risk. This kind of insurance protects farmers against people who may claim to suffer illness, injury, or loss due to the product the farmer sold to them. Product liability insurance covers medical expenses, the cost of a lawyer, and more.

Adapted from Food Safety and Liability Insurance for Small-Scale and Limited Resource Farmers, Community Food Security Coalition and USDA Risk Management Agency


WSDA Small Farm and Direct Marketing Handbook:
Regulations and Strategies for Farm Businesses in Washington State
The WSDA Small Farm & Direct Marketing Program publishes this handbook, popularly known as "The Green Book." This publication is available for download and aims to help beginning, established and/or transitioning farmers understand the rules and regulations for direct marketing and an endless range of food, flower, seed and nursery products in Washington State.  The book is updated with new information on direct marketing strategies and regulations for specific products is in response to frequently asked questions from farmers around the state.

Información para Productores Latinos
The WSDA Small Farm & Direct Marketing Program provides risk management publications and audio tools for Spanish speakers.

"El Libro Verde"  Manual de Reglamentos Para el Mercadeo Directo de Productos Agrícolas (PDF)  (1.06 MB) Actualizado en el 2006. Esta manual contiene información sobre los reglamentos que rigen las ventas de los productos agrícolas en el estado de Washington. Es una guía comprensiva para el mercadeo directo y contiene una sección extensiva con recursos de organizaciones y publicaciones relevantes. Puede obtener copias gratuitas de esta publicación poniéndose en contacto con nosotros por correo electrónico.

Manejo del Riesgo y Estrategias para Negocios Agrícolas (MP3)
Actualizado en Marzo del 2009.  Esta serie de archivos en audio digital contiene 10 temas que serán de interés para personas que sean o desean ser dueños de huertas o ranchos. Sirven como un recurso para tomar decisiones sobre el manejo estratégico de su empresa agrícola. Póngase en contacto con nosotros por correo electrónico para obtener esta serie de 5 discos compactos.

Mas Información para Productores Latinos


Last Updated: 6/24/2015