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    March 2018
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USDA NIFA invests in food safety outreach and education

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has announced awards to provide food safety education for producers and processors affected by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Funding is provided through the NIFA’s Food Safety Outreach Program (FSOP).

“Education and outreach are essential for the continued implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, as foodborne illness is both a public health problem and a threat to the economic well-being of any food system,” said NIFA Director Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy. “With a multi-layered approach of multi-state, community outreach, and pilot projects, small farmers, wholesalers, and small-scale processors can increase their bottom line while meeting the critical need of food safety in the United States.”

The FSOP supports projects that focus on the implementation of customized training to small and mid-sized farms, beginning farmers, socially-disadvantaged farmers, small processors, and small fresh fruit and vegetable merchant wholesalers. Awards are made under three categories: Multistate Education and Training Projects, Community Outreach Projects, and Pilot Projects.

Grantees announced today include Alabama A&M University, which will implement and deliver produce safety and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) training to specialty crop growers in over 10 counties covering Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee. Another grantee, Brothers Excelling with Self-sufficiency to Thrive (BEST), seeks to address food insecurity and increase food safety knowledge in Guilford County, North Carolina, by using the Investigating Food Safety from Farm to Table curriculum to educate rehabilitated youth ages 16-24.

There are 25 awards totaling $4.7 million funded through the FSOP in fiscal year 2017:

Pilot Projects:
Brothers Excelling with Self-sufficiency to Thrive (BEST), Greensboro, North Carolina, $54,126
University of California – Davis, Davis, California, $21,687
Dakota College at Bottineau, Bottineau, North Dakota, $55,000
Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma, $18,632
Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, $55,000
University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin, $54,841

Project details can be found at the NIFA website.

Community Outreach and Education:
Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, $152,603
California Certified Organic Farmers Inc., Santa Cruz, California, $120,426
University of California – Davis, Davis, California, $163,499
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Pittsboro, North Carolina, $164,399
FamilyFarmed, Chicago, Illinois, $84,277
University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, $164,993
University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, $165,000
Ohio State University, Wooster, Ohio, $200,000
Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, $199,899
Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tennessee, $164,980
Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama, $133,299
Winrock International Inst. For Agric. Development, Arlington, Virginia, $165,000

Project details can be found at the NIFA website(link is external).

Multistate Education and Training Projects:
Alabama A&M University, Normal, Alabama, $450,000
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, $256,322
N Y Agricultural Expt. Station, Geneva, New York, $449,488
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, $396,644
University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, $366,152
Global Growers Network, Inc., Stone Mountain, Georgia, $305,944
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts, $398,442

Project details can be found at the NIFA website.

(NOTE: Multistate Education and Training Projects support multi-county, state-wide, or multi-state food safety education and outreach programs. Community Outreach Projects support the expansion of current, local food safety education and outreach programs that are looking to expand. Pilot Projects foster the development of new, high-impact food safety education that address the needs of non-traditional, niche, or hard-to-reach audiences, including those with cultural or language barriers).

Previously funded projects include Global Growers Network, Inc., which provided food safety material and training to over 40 farms across Georgia and established connections to wholesalers, which boosted business by increasing the amount of local produce sold in local communities. A California State Polytechnic University project increased knowledge of changing safety regulations in FSMA among 60 farmers operating small-sized fresh fruit and vegetable operations and established a Western Regional Urban Agriculture Food Safety where  urban farmers, educators, and industry professionals can earn an Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) Certificate.

NIFA reviews all proposals accepted in NIFA’s competitive grant programs through an external peer review process. Specific details on panel meetings, review formats, and evaluation criteria may vary among programs.

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