Help Prevent Crop Contamination

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Agriculture is an industry where success comes from hard work and dedication by all individuals involved. Wayne County agriculture is unique in that we produce a wide range of field crops and produce for consumers. Often times we take agriculture for granted since food and fiber has always been at our disposal. Also, many consumers do not realize the strict regulations that have been placed on the industry in terms of producing a premium product. For example, Non Tobacco Related Materials (NTRM) found in flue-cured tobacco can pose serious financial consequences to farmers if detected in the supply. Such materials include plastics, bottles, gloves, metals, wood products etc. As citizens, it is our job to be good stewards of the environment and reduce the potential for undesirable materials from entering into agricultural fields and products.

Another crop that has surfaced in the past few years in Wayne County has been peanuts. The success in Wayne County is due to the availability of well-drained soils, proper climate, and intense management from farmers. However, an important component of peanut production is producing a quality product. Factors such as shelf life, flavor, and size determine acceptability from consumers. Like other crops, there are regulations once the product arrives at the buying point. For example, if an alternative crop such as corn is found in the peanut supply, then the entire shipment will be rejected, resulting in loss revenue for the farmer. Corn is of concern since aflatoxins (fungus species) could be present on mature kernels. This fungus poses serious health risks to humans and livestock. If aflatoxin is detected at unacceptable levels, then the product will be removed from the supply.

As we well know, risks exist everywhere in our food supply chain. With the increase in human population, food and fiber production will have to meet the growing demand. Citizens can help by disposing of unwanted materials properly and by not putting shelled corn in a field where the crop has not been harvested. Going forward, we must protect the integrity of the land, water, environment, and agricultural products so we can ensure that food and fiber needs will be met in the future.