Our Postharvest and Marketing Technology cluster advises operators of small to medium-size farms on food handling issues and practices used on-farm and at sales venues such as farmers markets, wholesale food terminals, and community-supported subscription outlets.
Postharvest handling must address virtually every physical, chemical, or temperature change that occurs in agricultural products--from harvest to final consumption. Effective postharvest handling operations, such as cleaning, sorting, processing, grading, packaging, and refrigeration make the agricultural product salable. The marketplace demands continually upgraded quality, appearance, shelf life, and safety of food products. Improper or insufficient postharvest handling by small farmers is a major barrier to entering the marketplace.
Working with partners in State agriculture departments, universities, Extension, local Resource Conservation & Development councils, and other nonprofit organizations, we:
- Encourage the use of appropriate, cost-effective postharvest techniques, particularly by small and economically disadvantaged farmers, handlers, and marketers.
- Provide technical assistance to farmers, cooperatives, and others in equipment selection, layout, and operation of specific postharvest operations and facilities.
- Research new and cost-effective postharvest techniques, especially for small or alternative-product producers.
- Encourage the use of innovative technology using advanced equipment and procedures.