As implementation begins for the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules, farmers and food businesses are increasingly looking to Food Safety Outreach Program (FSOP)-funded programs for resources and training to help them come into compliance. FSOP is a federal grants program that funds community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, cooperative extension, and local, state, and tribal governments’ training and technical assistance programs focused on food safety to help address FSMA related topics.
The program, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), recently announced $7.6 million in available FSOP funds for FY 2019 – an increase of $1 million in grant funding from last year.
The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. Eastern Time on June 6, 2019.
For FY 2019, NIFA will focus on outreach and education around food safety practices and the new FSMA rules. There are two types of projects eligible to receive FSOP funding: Community Outreach and Collaborative Education and Training Projects.
Community Outreach Projects
Similar to last year, FSOP will again offer Community Outreach Projects, with relatively few changes. Awards can be between $80,000 and $150,000 for projects lasting up to two years. Community Outreach Projects must:
- Create, implement or expand food safety education to niche, underserved, or non-traditional audiences.
- Be led by a team with a record of strong community partnerships and working with others to educate target audiences.
- Create and implement a customized food safety training and outreach program for various types of farms or food processors, including those working with conservation systems, sustainable businesses, and organic food producers.
These projects might create new materials for food safety training, provide technical assistance, and/or expand existing programs to help them reach new audiences.
Collaborative Education and Training Projects
Collaborative Education and Training Projects are a new category of awards this year that aim to fund state-wide, multi-state, or multi-county food safety training projects. Grant awards are available for $200,000 to $400,000 for projects up to three years. These projects must:
- Be led by a project team with a track record of community partnerships and serving educational needs of the target audiences.
- Create and execute food safety education and outreach for various types of farms or food processors, including those working with conservation systems, sustainable businesses, and organic food producers.
Additional Funds Available for Both Projects
An additional $150,000 is available for applications to either project type that increase outreach to communities of color: Collaborative Engagement Supplements. Organizations applying for this supplemental support must include a significant collaboration with any of the following academic institutions: 1890, 1862, 1994, Insular Areas, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Hispanic Serving Agricultural Colleges and Universities.
Program Changes for FY 2019
The match requirement that previously existed in the last farm bill was removed in the 2018 Farm Bill – the match will now be waived regardless of USDA’s decision to waive the match for community-based organizations.
The 2018 Farm Bill also removed the language that prohibited an entity from receiving more than three years of FSOP funds. Previously, NIFA had allowed organizations that had already received three years of funds to list a new Principal Investigator on their application to avoid this three-year limitation. Fortunately, the 2018 Farm Bill removes the prohibition entirely, and as of the FY 2019 RFA, a past Principal Investigator that received an FSOP award can now reapply for a new grant term.
Project categories are slightly different from past years. Previous RFAs included a Pilot Project option, which is now combined into the Community Outreach Projects, as well as funding for Regional Food Safety Training Centers. There is also the new project category, Collaborative Engagement Supplement, as mentioned above.
Get Involved: Join a Peer Review Panel
NIFA is looking for peer review panelists that have experience with food safety education and training and work for community-based or non-governmental organizations that work with or are themselves underserved small producers and processors. In order to be eligible, you must not be part of a current or pending FSOP project. Interested panelists should email Jodi Williams, NIFA National Program Leader for Food Safety: email@example.com
NIFA is looking for individuals to serve on this year’s FSOP peer review panel. As these grants are awarded on a competitive basis, NIFA relies on review panels comprised of program stakeholders to evaluate the merit of each proposed project. Check out our peer reviewer toolkit for more information on what it means to serve on a peer review panel.
For this panel, NIFA is specifically looking for peer review panelists that have experience with food safety education and training and work for community-based or non-governmental organizations, especially those who work with or are themselves underserved small producers and processors.
In order to be eligible, panelists must not be actively applying for a grant in this funding round. Interested panelists should email Jodi Williams, NIFA National Program Leader for Food Safety: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional application details and requirements, see the FY 2019 Request for Applications.
If you are interested in applying for an FSOP grant this year, check out NIFA’s webinar about the program on Friday, May 17, 2019 at 11am Eastern Time.
You can also learn more about FSOP through the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s Grassroots Guide to the Farm Bill.