The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced more than $4.7 million in grants for food safety education, training and technical assistance projects for producers who are impacted by the new food safety guidelines established by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). The grants, made available through NIFA’s Food Safety Outreach Program, will assist owners and operators of small to mid-sized farms, beginning farmers, socially-disadvantaged farmers, small processors, small fresh fruit and vegetable wholesalers, food hubs, farmers markets and others.
“Providing food safety training for small farm owners and food processors is critically important to the health of consumers,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “Outreach, training and technical support are essential to the successful implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act.”
In 2015, NIFA and the FDA funded the creation of national and regional centers to extend food safety education, training and technical assistance to groups affected by new FSMA guidelines. NIFA’s Food Safety Outreach Program uses that infrastructure to assist grantees that will work directly with producers and collaborate with the centers to share best practices and lessons learned to inform future projects.
The 2016 awards were made in three categories:
Pilot Projects to support the development and implementation of new food safety education and outreach programs in local communities that address the needs of small, specialized audiences;
- University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz., $59,994
- California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Calif., $60,000
- University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., $60,000
- Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services, Honolulu, Hawaii, $60,000
- Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Ill., $146,893
- Third Sector New England Inc., Boston, Mass., $60,000
- University of Maryland, College Park, Md., $57,991
- Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Pittsboro, N.C., $58,493
- Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tenn., $59,959
- Local Food Hub Inc., Charlottesville, Va., $59,926
Community Outreach Projects focused on the growth and expansion of existing food safety education and outreach programs;
- Community Alliance with Family Farmers Foundation, Davis, Calif., $163,500
- University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., $163,284
- Global Growers Network, Decatur, Ga., $119,962
- Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan., $150, 773
- University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass., $144,617
- Penn State University, State College, Pa., $163,085
- University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt., $161,287
- Viva Farms, Mount Vernon, Wash., $163, 416
- Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, Madison, Wisc., $152,600
- West Virginia State University, Institute, W. Va., $163,159
Multistate education and training projects to support the development and implementation of multi-county, statewide or multi-state food safety education and outreach programs where there are common food safety concerns;
- University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho, $522,893
- Northeast Organic Farming Association, Road Barre, Mass., $522,348
- University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn., $522,822
- Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Elgin, Texas, $435,714
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va., $523,622
More information on these projects is available on the NIFA website.
The Food Safety Outreach Program is just one example of the many USDA programs and services that support strong local and regional food systems. Across USDA, the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative coordinates the Department’s policy, resources and outreach efforts related to local and regional food systems. USDA has helped provide consumers a stronger connection to their food with more than $1 billion in investments to over 40,000 local and regional food businesses and infrastructure projects since 2009. Industry data estimates that U.S. local food sales totaled at least $12 billion in 2014, up from $5 billion in 2008. More information on how USDA investments are connecting producers with consumers and expanding rural economic opportunities is available online in the USDA Results Medium Chapter New Markets, New Opportunities: Strengthening Local Food Systems and Organic Agriculture(link is external).
NIFA invests in and advances innovative and transformative research, education and extension to solve societal challenges and ensure the long-term viability of agriculture. NIFA support for the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel has resulted in user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries that are combating childhood obesity, improving and sustaining rural economic growth, addressing water availability issues, increasing food production, finding new sources of energy, mitigating climate variability, and ensuring food safety.
To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural science, visit www.nifa.usda.gov/impacts, sign up for email updates(link is external), or follow us on Twitter @usda_NIFA(link is external),#NIFAimpacts(link is external).