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.
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:
View the full RFA here.