NSAC's Blog

Food Safety Outreach Program Grants Recently Awarded

January 12, 2021

Radishes being washed. Photo Credit: Lindsey Scalera

At the end of 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awarded funds through the Food Safety Outreach Program (FSOP) to several organizations who plan to provide educational resources and assistance to farmers and food businesses working to improve their food safety practices. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is pleased to see the fiscal year (FY) 2020 awards will continue to help farms and food businesses navigate the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requirements.

Program Overview

FSOP provides grant funding to organizations that provide food safety training and assistance primarily to small and mid-sized farms, beginning and historically underserved farmers, small processors, and small produce wholesalers. FSOP was first funded in FY 2015, and NSAC has continued to advocate for additional program funding, which has increased from $2.5 million in FY 2015 to $10 million for FY 2021.

NSAC encourages all eligible entities to consider applying for an FSOP grant for FY 2021. The program currently has no match requirement, and can be used to provide farmers with educational tools, technical assistance, and the resources they need to navigate the complex Produce Safety Rule requirements. Below are some examples of the 2020 grantees’ projects.

Spotlight on 2020 Grantees

NSAC congratulates this year’s FSOP grant recipients, especially the three NSAC member organizations that received awards this year.

  • Florida Organic Growers (FOG), Gainesville, FL – FOG will use their $200,000 award to ensure new and beginning farmers, farmers in remote rural areas, and Spanish-speaking growers are able to access food safety and FSMA-related information through podcasts and webinars focused on the most relevant food safety topics.

“FOG is very thrilled for the opportunity that the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has given us to help educate farmers and consumers on the importance of food safety in our food systems,” said Ramkrishnan Balasubramanian – Executive Director. “As many of us have had to do during the COVID pandemic, we were forced to get creative to continue to properly serve our stakeholders. Considering the current limitations that prevent us from congregating in groups and be part of educational activities, FOG is confident that our podcast and webinar episodes designed to educate agricultural producers about the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations, will help them develop proper food safety standards on their farms. Our podcasts and webinars will feature expertise on a variety of topics to thoroughly explain key food safety topics.”

  • Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), Davis, CA – This project will help California farmers offset the costs of FSMA, by providing a cost-share program for farmers to help pay for water tests, a food safety audit, such as a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Audit, and other potential FSMA-related costs. CAFF will also use their grant to ensure educational materials are updated with all recent FSMA Produce Safety Rule changes, along with other educational resources that focus on various on-farm food safety requirements.   

“CAFF’s 2020-22 NIFA FSOP award will allow the organization to provide a new resource on the similarities and differences between organic certification, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and third party GAP Audits,” stated Kali Feiereisel Senior Manager, Farmer Services. “Additionally, CAFF will offer a cost-share grant program where farmers can apply for funds to offset the cost of water testing and expenses related to third party GAP Audits. The cost-share program will reserve half the funds for farmers that identify with one or more of the following categories: small/medium scale, socially disadvantaged, organic, and/or beginning (all USDA definitions).” 

  • California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), Santa Cruz, CA – The Multi-state Initiative to Support Organic Food Processors with Food Safety Compliance project will help small and mid-size food processors in California, Oregon, and Washington with FSMA compliance.

“The CCOF Foundation will use the funds they received from a USDA-awarded NIFA Food Safety Outreach Program grant to lead a multi-state initiative to support organic food processors through food safety compliance training and education,” said Jessy Beckett Parr, CCOF Foundation director. “Our 1,400 certified organic processor handlers are excited to have access to this material, and we’re proud to partner with the USDA to support food safety compliance of producers.” 

Categories: Carousel, Food Safety

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