The 2013 AFMA annual meeting took place on January 24th at the University of Arkansas Agricultural Extension Office at 2301 S. University in Little Rock with between 30-40 members in attendance.
The rise in popularity of farmers markets is being accompanied by a parallel rise in concerns about how best to keep local consumers safe from the same pathogens responsible for nationwide outbreaks of numerous foodborne illnesses. With decisions of whether and how to oversee food safety largely falling to market managers and vendor-operated boards of directors, the focus of the meeting was food safety. Steve Seideman, U of A Extension Food Processing Specialist, identified characteristics of some of the most prevalent foodborne illnesses as well as risks involved in selling produce.
Building sanitation and food safety into vendors’ routines is an essential component of success for both farmers and the future of farmers markets. AFMA is committed to supporting the U of A Division of Agriculture in its efforts to enhance resources for food safety throughout 2013.
A portion of the meeting was devoted to exploring the future of AFMA. Tim Ellison, past Director of Marketing at the Agriculture Department, provided attendees a look at the history of AFMA – why it was created and its progress up to the current time. Attendees participated in roundtable discussions to share their perspectives on the future of AFMA and to help choose its direction for 2013.
The last section of our meeting focused on AFMA business and the election of new board members.