About the Southern Center
The SC is built upon the collaborative infrastructure established within the Southern US over the previous 6 years (2015-2021) to support Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) compliant training, education, outreach, and technical assistance as it relates to the food industry. The SC includes participation from land-grant institutions and non-government and community-based organizations in AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, OK, PR, SC, TN, TX, and VA. Recognizing the critical link in ensuring public access to agricultural education, research, and outreach programs are equitably distributed to all Americans, we have continued to build our consortium team, highlighted by the addition of 4 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSIs), in addition to the returning 4 HBCUs and 1 HSI. All partners have an established record of accomplishment of working with target audiences, developing and modifying food safety training curricula, and supporting food safety practices for stakeholders. Building upon previously established partnerships, SC 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 merchant wholesalers affected by FSMA. In addition to land-grant institutions and established partnerships with stakeholder groups, coordination between state and local regulators, additional community-based and non-governmental organizations, and current and future USDA-NIFA Food Safety Outreach Project (FSOP) grantees, will be leveraged to maximize training effectiveness and delivery opportunities.
The goal will be accomplished through the following specific objectives:
- Develop and offer continuing educational opportunities to a cadre of PSA trainers and lead trainers, and FSPCA Lead Instructors within the Southern US.
- Develop and share best practices approaches for food safety training, ensuring consistency with FSMA rules.
- Coordinate regional communication.
- Evaluate the impact of the SC education and training through ongoing program assessments.
Programs will focus on helping audiences understand and interpret FSMA regulations and implement systems to meet requirements across the respective environments, agricultural production and processing systems in the Southern US to ensure co-management of food safety, conservation systems, and ecological health.