USDA provides $4.7m grants for food safety education, training and technical assistance projects
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing $4.7m grants for food safety education, training, and technical assistance projects, which will enable farmers and small food processors, vegetable and fruit merchants and others to comply with the new safety standards.
USDA is offering the grants through its Food Safety Outreach Program.
The grants, which will be administered by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), are intended to aid small to mid-sized farm owners, beginning farmers, socially-disadvantaged farmers, small processors, small fresh fruit and vegetable merchant wholesalers, food hubs, farmers' markets.
The funding will assist the stakeholders to comply with the new food safety guidelines issued by by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Agricultural secretary Tom Vilsack said: "As growing demand for local food creates new economic opportunities for small farms, beginning farmers, and others, we are committed to ensuring that all types of farmers and businesses have the tools they need to be successful.
"By supporting projects that offer tailored training, education, and technical assistance for producers and processors of local food, these grants will benefit producers, the entire food supply chain, and consumers."
In 2015, NIFA and FDA provided funds for the infrastructure facilities of National and Regional Centers to expand the reach of food safety education, training, and technical assistance for audiences those impacted by the new guidelines set up under the FSMA.
This year, the Food Safety Outreach Program at NIFA will continue to improve the established infrastructure by focusing on providing personalized training for owners and operators of small farms, food processors, small fruit and vegetable wholesalers, food hubs, farmers' markets, terminal markets, and farms, which do not have access to food safety training and other educational opportunities.
In 2016, NIFA intends to fund three types of projects to help producers meet the terms of FSMA.
Pilot projects will focus on development and implementation of projects that impart food safety education and outreach programs in local communities, which will cater to the needs of small and specialized audiences from several target groups.
The community outreach programs will focus on the existing food safety education programs,which are being offered in local communities.
Multistate education and training projects will provide support to the development and implementation of multi-county, state, or multi-state food safety education and outreach programs, with common food safety concerns. However, they need not be located within the same regions.