Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today toured the cantaloupe warehouse at Hirakata Farms in Rocky Ford and highlighted the work of local producers as well as the safety of Rocky Ford cantaloupes. The event is part of a two-day swing through Colorado’s Eastern Plains that will highlight the need to create jobs, support family farmers and ranchers, and boost economic development in Colorado’s rural communities.
“Our farmers in Rocky Ford produce some of the best melons in the world. Thanks to the Rocky Ford Growers Association, we can be even more confident that producers are taking the steps they need to create a delicious and safe product,” Bennet said. “This operation is just another example of how Colorado’s rural businesses are helping to advance the economic recovery.”
“Rocky Ford’s cantaloupe industry is important to the fabric of our state; for over a century, it has been synonymous with delicious, juicy melons,” said Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture, John T. Salazar. “Food safety is a journey, not a destination. We will continue to work with the Rocky Ford Grower’s Association to provide training and development of food safety practices in order to provide a safe, nutritious product for families.”
Farmers in and around Rocky Ford took proactive steps to protect against future outbreaks and to restore public confidence in their product. The growers formed the Rocky Ford Growers Association that trademarked Rocky Ford Melons and made upgrades to equipment and food processing facilities. They also hired a full-time safety manager and established a strict process by which the melons are handled from the fields to the grocery store. The melons will also be packed with special codes that retailers can scan using a smartphone to learn more about where they originated.