The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food & Agriculture (NIFA) announced more than $4.7 million in grants for food safety education, training and technical assistance projects for producers who are affected by the new food safety guidelines established by the Food & Drug Administration 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 midsized 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,” NIFA director Sonny Ramaswamy said. “Outreach, training and technical support are essential to the successful implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act.”
In 2015, NIFA and 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:
1. 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. These grants went to:
- University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz., $59,994.
- California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, Cal., $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 Assn., Pittsboro, N.C., $58,493.
- Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tenn., $59,959.
- Local Food Hub Inc., Charlottesville, Va., $59,926.
2. Community Outreach Projects focused on the growth and expansion of existing food safety education and outreach program. These grants went to:
- Community Alliance with Family Farmers Foundation, Davis, Cal., $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.
- Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pa., $163,085.
- University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt., $161,287.
- Viva Farms, Mt. Vernon, Wash., $163, 416.
- Wisconsin Cheese Makers Assn., Madison, Wis., $152,600.
- West Virginia State University, Institute, W.Va., $163,159.
3. 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. These grants went to:
- University of Idaho, Moscow, Ida., $522,893.
- Northeast Organic Farming Assn., Road Barre, Mass., $522,348.
- University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn., $522,822.
- Texas Organic Farmers & Gardeners Assn., Elgin, Texas, $435,714.
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute & 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 offer consumers a stronger connection to their food with more than $1 billion in investments to more than 40,000 local and regional food businesses and infrastructure projects since 2009.
Industry estimates show that local food sales for the U.S. totaled at least $12 billion in 2014, up from $5 billion in 2008.