May 19, 2015

USDA funding available for food safety training, outreach, assistance

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced the availability of $2.3 million for the establishment of regional centers to support comprehensive food safety training and education, pursuant to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This program is jointly developed and administered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which will support additional regional centers through a separate funding announcement that will be released in the coming weeks.

“Outreach, education and technical assistance are essential to ensuring that farmers, processors, and wholesalers can meet FSMA requirements,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “NIFA has a long history of facilitating education in communities across the country and is uniquely positioned to ensure that this training and assistance reaches those who need it at the local level.”

The National Food Safety Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance Grant Program will fund regional centers that will facilitate work across their regions to increase the understanding and adoption of established food safety standards, guidance, and protocols. Specifically, this work will address the needs of small and medium-sized farms, beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, small processors, and small fresh fruit and vegetable merchant wholesalers. The training and education funded through this program should address a variety of agricultural production and processing systems, including conventional, sustainable, organic, and conservation and environmental practices.

The joint NIFA-FDA program will award grants to establish one national coordination center and four regional centers. The national coordination center will coordinate the overall program, while the regional centers will reach out into local communities to work with FSMA audiences across the country. Regional centers will also coordinate with one another through the national coordination center.

The regional centers will reach out to and work with representatives from non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations, as well as food hubs, local farm cooperatives, extension, and others entities that can address specific needs of the communities they serve.

NIFA is issuing this request for applications for the establishment of two regional centers, one in the Southern Region and one in the Western Region, as defined by Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. FDA will issue a separate funding announcement in the coming weeks for the establishment of two additional regional centers in the North Central the Northeast regions.

Applications are due June 29. See the request for applications on the NIFA website for more information.

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