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Funding Available to Establish a National Center for Food Safety Training

January 16, 2015


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released a request for applications (RFA) to establish a National Coordination Center as part of the Food Safety Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance Grants Program.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law in 2011, authorized the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to establish and administer a competitive grants program for food safety training. The program is intended to take an integrated approach to food safety training that works for diverse production systems – including sustainable, organic, and conservation-based systems – with an emphasis on projects that address the co-management of food safety, conservation, and environmental health. NIFA is also directed to prioritize awarding grants to training projects that target small and mid-sized farms, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers, small processors, and small fruit and vegetable wholesalers.

When Congress passed the FY 15 “Crominbus” appropriations bill, it included $2.5 million in first-time funding for NIFA to administer this program.

The RFA that FDA has issued is in partnership with NIFA. FDA is requesting applications to establish a National Coordination Center that would result in a three-year cooperative agreement between FDA and the awardee. Sometime in the near future, NIFA will issues separate RFAs to establish a yet-unknown number of Regional Centers. The National Center would support and coordinate the Regional Centers, acting as a liaison between FDA and the Regional Centers to ensure that training programs are consistent with the FSMA regulations once they are finalized. According to the RFA, the Regional Centers “will lead, manage, and coordinate the regional development and implementation of food safety training, education, outreach and technical assistance programs for the intended audiences.”

According to FDA, this program will prioritize “those submitting grant applications to train owners and operators of small and medium-size farms; farmers just starting out in business; socially disadvantaged farmers; small food processors; small fruit and vegetable wholesalers; and farms that lack access to food safety training and other educational opportunities.”

However, it is not entirely clear whether the Regional Centers are expected to provide all of the trainings for the particular region, or if they will be administering a competitive grants program (as required by FSMA) at regional level. NSAC strongly supports the latter scenario, which would ensure that funding is made available to non-profit farm and community-based organizations that work directly with the farmers and small processors identified as the target audience, including those farmers that may be subject to multiple rules as both produce growers and on-farm processors.

RFA Details

Letters of intent are due by February 16, 2015. Full applications will then be due by March 16, 2015.

The cooperative agreement will last three-years and provide $200,000 each year to:

  • Provide overall leadership for support and coordination of the future successfully-funded Regional Centers (RC);
  • Work collaboratively with successfully-funded RCs to ensure that training curricula and resources cover fundamental food safety practices relevant to the target audiences across all funded regional centers, and that those competencies are consistent with FSMA produce safety standards and preventive control requirements for manufacturing/processing/packing/holding food, once finalized;
  • Work collaboratively with the RCs to facilitate the integration of FSMA-related food safety standards and guidance (where appropriate) with a variety of agricultural production systems, encompassing conventional, sustainable, organic, and conservation and environmental practices;
  • Work collaboratively with successfully-funded RCs to ensure that all Centers are actively evaluating the impacts of their education, training, and technical assistance programs. Develop a mechanism for collating regional impacts into an overall annual national impact report. Prepare and submit to FDA an annual impact report on National Coordination Center for Food Safety Training, Education, Extension, Outreach, and Technical Assistance;
  • Serve as an information and communication liaison between FDA and the RCs; and
  • Develop fact sheets and informational resources for communicating new FSMA guidelines to the RCs, identify training and educational resources consistent with the new FSMA guidelines, develop measures to evaluate the RCs’ impacts from education, training, and technical assistance programs, and identify and recruit key stakeholders (food safety professionals, food safety organizations, and prime contacts in the food industry) who can serve as informational resources to the NCC and to the future-funded Regional Centers.

View the full RFA here.


Categories: Food Safety, Grants and Programs


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