On Monday, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced $1.5 million of continued funding, in the form of cooperative agreements, to the University of Arkansas Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative and the National Farmers Union to enhance food safety under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
These competitive funding opportunities were announced in November 2019 and are intended to support targeted outreach, education and training to enhance food safety and FSMA compliance, with a focus on the produce safety and preventive controls for human foods rules. One cooperative agreement, awarded to the University of Arkansas Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative focuses on outreach, education and training for Native American tribes, and the other was awarded to the National Farmers Union to support outreach, education and training for local food producers and processors. Both awardees will continue to work toward meeting the unique needs of their target audiences while leveraging the use of materials developed by the FSMA alliances.
Local Food Producers Cooperative Agreement
The National Farmers Union was selected for funding having demonstrated their ability to enhance food safety through targeted outreach, education and training to local food producers and processors including beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers, traditional farmers, urban farmers, small farmers and processors, and other supply-chain participants, through the National Farmers Union Food Safety Collaborative Project. Their work has included:
- Conducting a national two-tier, multi-year needs assessment with Cornell University designed to better understand the needs of local produce farmers and small-scale processors on food safety implementation;
- Offering low-cost Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) and Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance trainings and food safety plan workshops to support implementation of the Produce Safety and Preventive Controls for Human Food (PC Human Food) rules among small farmers and food processors, and supporting PSA trainer development.
- Developing a national FSMA communication framework among all relevant stakeholders, with input from a diverse steering committee familiar with the target audiences. This included creating a project website and partnering with several sub-awardees across the nation to conduct outreach, education, and technical assistance.
- Developing resource materials, such as a “A Small Farmer’s Practical Guide to Food Safety” and its “Deep Dive” companion, and “FSMA on the Farm” which provides a step-by-step look at the PC Human Food rule, among others made available on their website.
- Providing specialized and on-farm assistance to minority and socially disadvantaged producers and processors in Alabama and Mississippi. Piloted through project partner Deep Food South Alliance, this Grower Liaison Model utilized farm-level demonstrations, which were successful in providing ways to meet FSMA requirements and promote food safety using innovative and low-cost methods.
The award for the local food producers cooperative agreement will be for $1,000,000 for one year with the possibility of an additional year of support contingent upon satisfactory performance and the availability of federal funding.
Native American Tribal Cooperative Agreement
The Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative (IFAI) at the University of Arkansas has been selected for funding having demonstrated their ability to advance food safety through outreach, education and training to Native American tribes. Their work has supported FSMA implementation through science-based food safety training, education, outreach, and technical assistance that takes into account tribal historical, cultural and regional agricultural production and processing practices which has included:
- Developing a modified produce rule curriculum to meet the needs of tribal audiences;
- Hosting a regular webinar series on the Produce Safety rule and other related topics, along with creating a project website;
- Supporting Produce Safety Alliance trainer development and offering subsidized PSA grower trainings for tribal members;
- In conjunction with partners, conducting extensive tribal outreach and technical assistance on produce safety among tribal producers and processors; and
- Developing a needs assessment to gather information on the FSMA training and education needs of the tribal community.
The award for the tribal cooperative agreement will be for $500,000 for one year with the possibility of an additional year of support contingent upon satisfactory performance and the availability of federal funding.