KANSAS CITY, MO. – Today, the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced it will fund 21 grants ($10 million) for food processors and farmers with small to mid-size operations to develop and implement food safety and Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)-related training, education, extension outreach and technical assistance.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 48 million people in this country get sick from foodborne illness each year.” said Carrie Castille, PhD, director at NIFA. “Education and outreach are essential for ensuring our food supply is safe from the field to the table.

“NIFA’s integrated approach to enhancing food safety practices includes multi-state coordination, community outreach and collaborative projects that enable small farm operators, wholesalers and small-scale processors to get the support they need,” she said. “This program helps deliver critical trainings and resources that equip our small business owners with tools to provide safe, high-quality food, strengthen their businesses and contribute to national nutrition security.”

The Food Safety Outreach grant program is competitive and also supports beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, veteran farmers and ranchers, and small fresh fruit and vegetable merchant wholesalers.

Awards may be granted under three categories: Multistate Education and Training Projects, Community Outreach Projects and Collaborative Engagement Supplements. NIFA made 13 Collaborative Education and Training Project awards, four Community Outreach Project awards and four Regional Center awards in FY 2021.

Examples of the 21 funded FSOP grants include:

  • The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), passed into law in 2011 with food codes that protect communities from foodborne illness, largely focuses on training for large farmers and ranchers with commercial operations. Wisconsin Tribal Conservation Advisory Council Inc. will modify the FSMA training curriculum for Tribal growers, producers, and traditional harvesters so that they will increase their knowledge on safe handling of produce and traditional and wild foods. ($300,000)
  • Auburn University’s project, “Building a Food Safety Training Program to Empower Disadvantaged Producers in Alabama - Empowering Farmers Project,” will develop a food safety training program to empower limited-resource, minority farmers in the Black Belt region of Alabama. These small farmers have access to the fertile black belt soil, yet they lack access and adequate information to reap the full benefits of this resource. ($300,000)
  • Oregon State University’s project, “Western Regional Center to Enhance Food Safety,” will continue to foster collaboration in food safety education and stakeholder support of FSMA implementation. Leveraging a multi-institutional infrastructure already established across the United States Western Region, this initiative will expand the education network to include additional participants from Land-grant universities, Alaska Native-serving, Native Hawaiian-serving, and Hispanic-serving agricultural institutions, as well as non-governmental organizations from 13 Western states and two Pacific territories. ($793,592)