Quality Assurance Training Educates Youth About Good Production Practices, Puts Consumers at Ease and Puts More Milk in County Fair Bulk Tank

Ronnie K. Mitchell, Winneshiek County Extension Education Director

Situation

There are 330 youth enrolled in the Winneshiek County 4-H Program. Approximately 40 percent exhibit livestock at the county fair. Over the past few years, milk collected at the fair has been contaminated with antibiotics. As consumers read more about BSE and mad cow disease they become more concerned about purchasing quality milk and meat products.

Participants in the program gained an understanding about how to produce a quality wholesome food product for the consumer and how to follow the 10 Good Production Practices that will help them provide a quality wholesome product for the consumer. The youth also partipated in several hands on activities which explained the links of the food chain, milk residues and antibiotics, and how to give an injection to livestock properly.

Iowa 4-Hers produce approximately 13 million pounds of meat each year. Factor in the value of the dairy products produced from Iowa 4-H projects and this represents a significant portion of the agriculture income within the state of Iowa. Consumers within Iowa are hesitant about purchasing food products due to publicity on BSE and mad cow disease. Extension’s goal was to provide hands on training for Iowa youth related to food safety and regain the confidence and trust of consumers.

Extension Response

The Winneshiek County Extension Education Director is a member of the statewide Quality Assurance Team that is preparing a Quality Assurance Curriculum for Iowa youth. The team consists of field specialists, state 4-H and livestock specialists, and county extension education directors.

This year the program was a pilot for Winneshiek County. All Winneshiek County youth enrolled in 4-H and FFA were required to participate in the program if they planned to exhibit a milk or meat species at the 2001 Winneshiek County Fair. The 2 hour program was offered on an optional basis to Allamakee County Youth. 185 youth participated in the one of the three sessions.

Results

Participants in the program gained an understanding about how to produce a quality wholesome food product for the consumer and how to follow the 10 Good Production Practices which will help them provide a quality wholesome product for the consumer. The youth also partipated in several hands on activities which explained the links of the food chain, milk residues and antibiotics, and how to give an injection to livestock properly.

Participants completed a pre-test and a post-test during the program. The median score of the pre-test was 64.13 percent and the median score of the post-test was 80.86 percent. This reflects an increase in knowledge of 16.73 percent.

This year milk sales were up to $1,074 at the Winneshiek County Fair for the week. This was due to the increased emphasis on food safety and no antibiotic contamination occurred at the Winneshiek County Fair in 2001.

Consumers were able to bid on animals with confidence, knowing that the youth had participated in Quality Assurance Training. The Winneshiek County Fair had a successful livestock auction at the fair with the total value of animals sold in excess of $104,000.

Participants say:

"I really enjoyed all of the activities and hands on learning."

"This was a good way to help improve my livestock management practices"

"As a result of this workshop I now have a better understanding about drug residues and the proper method for giving shots to livestock."

"Very well organized if I could change one thing maybe I would make it shorter."

"If I administer drugs to my animals I know now why I should keep track of the withdrawal time ."