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USDA Awards Grants to Universities to Improve Food Safety

December 9, 2011


On Wednesday, December 7, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced 17 grants to universities in 13 states to improve the safety of our food supply through research, education, and extension in a number of areas.  A total of $10.4 million was awarded by USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through the National Integrated Food Safety Initiative (NIFSI).

NIFSI broadly addresses food safety issues encountered throughout the entire food procurement process- from on-farm production to consumption.  The initiative’s projects take an integrated approach to food safety by combining university research with classroom education and outreach to a diverse set of groups, including consumers, producers, federal agencies, and food service workers.

Several of the funded projects include:

  • Fort Valley State University, Fort Valley, Georgia- $100,000.  This project aims to improve processing operation methods in small and very small meat plants to enhance meat product safety.
  • University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia- $535,725.  This project will update and maintain the current National Center for Home Food Processing and Preservation website and conduct research on the safe and appropriate use of the home-style atmospheric steam canners for small batch canning.
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts- $424,878.  Through this partnership, university extension faculty and staff, county educators, local farm-to-preschool programs, early child care educators and local agricultural organizations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire will collaborate to identify and improve fresh produce safety knowledge and practices of staff, educators, and parent volunteers.
  • Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tennessee- $100,000.  This project will determine the occurrence of antibiotic resistant Clostridium difficile in poultry and pork products and the farm environment and develop and distribute educational materials on improving management practices to limited resource poultry and pig producers.

Unfortunately the FY 2012 agriculture appropriations bill that was signed into law by President Obama on November 18th zeroed out the budget for NIFSI for this fiscal year.  In the current budget environment, this may well be the last round of grants that NIFA will administer for the program which in recent years has been funded at $10-15 million a year.  Interestingly, while this funding was eliminated for 2012, funding for the Food and Drug Administration to enforce the new Food Safety Modernization Act, which is intended to be science-based, was increased by approximately $50 million.

To see a full listing of grant recipients, click here.


Categories: Budget and Appropriations, Food Safety, Grants and Programs


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