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About the Southern Center

The overall goal of Southern Regional Center (SRC) is to build upon the collaborative infrastructure established within the Southern US over the previous three years to support Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) compliant training, education, outreach, and technical assistance as it relates to the food industry, focusing on produce. The SRC includes participation from land-grant institutions and non-government and community-based organizations in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. All participating partners have an established track record of working with target audiences, the capacity to develop and modify food safety training curricula to meet FSMA rules, and support food safety practices for those who are excluded, for a variety of agricultural production and processing systems. Building upon previously established partnerships, SRC 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 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 grantees, will be leveraged to maximize training effectiveness and delivery opportunities.

The goal will be accomplished through the following specific objectives:

  1. Develop and offer continuing educational opportunities to a cadre of PSA trainers and lead trainers, and FSPCA Lead Instructors within the Southern US supporting the regulated industry.
  2. Coordinate a regional communication strategy to discuss ongoing efforts and best practices for FSMA-related training, education, and technical assistance within the southern US.
  3. Establish protocols for reviewing alternative and modified food safety training curricula, add-ons, and best practice approaches to ensure consistency with FSMA rules.
  4. Develop and implement a technical assistance network targeting farmers, processors, and vendors in the Southern US.
  5. Evaluate the impact of the Southern Regional Center 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 and agricultural production and processing systems in the Southern US to ensure co-management of food safety, conservation systems, and ecological health.