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About the Southern Center 

The overall goal of the Southern Center is to build a collaborative infrastructure in the Southern US to support Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) compliant training, education, extension, outreach, and technical assistance as it relates to the produce industry. The Southern Center includes participation from land-grant institutions in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. It will lead, manage, and coordinate regional assistance programs targeted at owners and operators of small- and medium-sized farms, beginning farmers, socially disadvantaged farmers, small food processors, and small fruit and vegetables merchant wholesalers affected by FSMA requirements. In addition to land-grant institutions, state and local regulators and community-based and non-governmental organizations will be leveraged to maximize training effectiveness and delivery opportunities.

The goal will be accomplished through the following specific objectives:

  1. Develop a cadre of PSA and FSPCA certified trainers within the Southern US who are focused on supporting the produce industry.
  2. Develop and deliver region and stakeholder specific education, training curricula, and technical assistance programs.
  3. Create strong partnerships with representative non-goverenmental organizations/community-based organizations to build capacity and strengthen collaboration for FSMA compliant trainings. 
  4. Evaluate the impact of Southern Center education, training, and technical assistance programs.

Programs will focus on helping audiences understand and interpret FSMA regulations and implement systems to meet requirements across the respective environments and agricultural production and processing systems in the Southern US to ensure co-management of food safety, conservation systems, and ecological health.