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UMass expert gets NIFA grant to promote food safety

By staff reporter , 30-Nov-2016
Last updated on 30-Nov-2016 at 09:30 GMT2016-11-30T09:30:07Z

Picture: iStock
Picture: iStock

University of Massachusetts Amherst has received a two-year grant from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Food Safety Outreach Program.

The $144,617 grant is to promote education, training and technical assistance for owners and operators of small- to mid-sized farms, farmers’ markets and others for which Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) guidelines apply.

NIFA’s $4.7m national program intends to help beginning farmers, small processors and fresh fruit and vegetable wholesalers to meet challenges from the Food and Drug Administration rules.

Lisa McKeag, a UMass Extension vegetable education specialist, said she will adapt UMass training materials to address requirements for FSMA’s produce rule, which deals with safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding fruits and vegetables.

“Farmers have many questions about what the new federal law requires of them, and how that will play out when the law is enforced at the state level.

“Many small operations may be technically exempt from most of the requirements of FSMA, but growers are interested in training and new practices and tools that are appropriate for the scale of agriculture we have in Massachusetts so that they can meet the demands of their buyers, improve their efficiency and, above all, produce safe food.”

McKeag also plans to collaborate with farmer advocacy and educational service organizations to expand the audience for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) education.

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