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WCMA Invites Dairy Producers to Register for Free FSMA Training and On-Site Consultation

MADISON, WI – The Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association (WCMA), in partnership with the Center for Dairy Research (CDR), invites dairy manufacturers and processors to register now for the Artisan Dairy Producer Food Safety Initiative.

Thanks to grant monies from the United States Department of Agriculture-National Institute of Food and Agriculture, this program offers – at no cost – training and on-site consultations geared toward preparing small dairy manufacturing plants for compliance with Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations.

“FSMA deadlines are looming, but many artisan cheesemakers simply don’t have the resources or expertise to create a food safety plan on their own,” said John Umhoefer, WCMA Executive Director and Initiative Co-Director.  “We’re pleased to be able to provide the helping hand Wisconsin’s dairy producers need now to ensure their facilities and processes meet or exceed regulatory standards.”

Initial program seminars will be held regionally throughout Wisconsin in January and February 2017.  All Wisconsin dairy manufacturers will be welcome to attend and learn the key concepts of FSMA.

In March, April, and May, two FSMA-trained Food Safety Educators will travel to up to 50 dairy manufacturing plants to evaluate existing operations, review existing food safety plans and, wherever necessary, help develop compliance plans.

For the rest of the year, those educators will follow up with participating producers and make themselves available to answer all dairy manufacturers’ FSMA-related questions.  All services will be free of charge.

WCMA and CDR officials are pleased to announce that Jim Mueller of Mueller Consulting and Larry Bell of LBell Consulting will serve as the program’s Food Safety Educators.  Mueller has more than 40 years of dairy experience and is a Wisconsin licensed Cheesemaker and grader.  He provides technical service expertise to dairy producers of all sizes through his consulting business.  Bell spent 31 years as a research manager and supplier quality manager for a major dairy manufacturer, and has five years of consulting experience in plants both large and small.

“Jim and Larry have the experience and knowledge to help artisan dairy producers create strong food safety plans,” said Marianne Smukowski, CDR Outreach Program Manager and Initiative Co-Director.  “Now, we’re encouraging dairy producers to partner with them to prepare for FSMA.”

Invitations will be mailed to Wisconsin dairy producers – including cheese, yogurt, butter, and ice cream makers and processors – before January 1, 2017.  However, interested producers may register now to participate.  Contact WCMA Communications and Policy Manager Rebekah Sweeney via email at rsweeney@wischeesemakers.org or via telephone at (608) 828-4550 for more information or to register today.