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USDA Framework May Have an Opportunity for YOU!
Shoring Up the Food Supply Chain and Transforming the Food System to Be Fairer, More Competitive, More Resilient


Last week the USDA announced the “Food System Transformation Framework,” a department wide program aimed at the food supply chain, including the fresh produce and products sector.  The framework is comprehensive and deserves to have the overarching details spelled out for you.
The devil is seemingly almost always in the details, and the NWA will communicate any additional information as it may arise.  Until that time, here is the layout of the framework:
PRODUCTION & PROCESSING
    •    $200 million for Food Safety Certification for Specialty Crops Program for specialty crop operations that incur eligible on-farm food safety program expenses to offset compliance costs of regulatory requirements and market-driven food safety certification requirements.
    •    Up to $600 million in financial assistance to support food supply chain infrastructure aimed at independently owned and available infrastructure such as cold storage, refrigerated trucks, and processing facilities are in short supply but essential to creating a more resilient food system. USDA will make investments to address the limited processing, distribution, storage, and aggregation capacity for a variety of food sectors, including high equipment costs, lack of competition, and limited supply chain and value chain coordination.
    •    Up to $300 million in a new Organic Transition Initiative to provide comprehensive support for farmers to transition to organic production through technical assistance, including farmer-to-farmer mentoring; provide direct support through conservation financial assistance and additional crop insurance assistance and support market development projects in targeted markets. This builds on the Organic Certification and Transition Cost Share program that was previously announced that provides pandemic assistance to producers and handlers of agricultural products who are obtaining or renewing their certification under the National Organic Program (NOP).
    •    Up to $75 million to support urban agriculture. The 2018 Farm Bill authorized the Office of Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production to award competitive grants to support urban agriculture. USDA will invest $20 million in funding a backlog of applications as well as an additional $10 million increase in money available for the 2022 funding year. Additionally, USDA will invest $40 million in cooperative agreements with organizations to support outreach and training activities for urban farmers.
    •    $400 million to create regional food business centers that will provide coordination, technical assistance, and capacity building support to small and mid-size food and farm businesses, particularly focused on processing, distribution and aggregation, and market access challenges. The business development needs of food businesses are distinct from other small businesses and existing business support networks such as those the Small Business Administration.
NUTRITION & FOOD SUPPLY
    •    Additional $40 million in the GusNIP Produce Prescriptions Program.  This program funds projects that demonstrate and evaluate the impacts of fresh produce prescriptions to increase fresh fruit and vegetable consumption, improve health, and reduce food insecurity. Since launching this program following the passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, demand has increased by 30 percent each year. While our long-term goal is for this work to live at Health and Human Services and not USDA, it is still a step in right direction. We will also be putting out a positive statement on this through the Produce Prescription Collaborative.
    •    $100 million to create a new Healthy Food Incentive Fund, which will support school food authorities to innovate and accelerate their efforts to improve the nutritional quality of school meals to children.  With these funds USDA will support peer to peer learning and recognize local programs for their leadership, excellence and efforts to deliver health nutritious food.
    •    $60 million to leverage increased commodity purchases through Farm-to-School.  Farm-to-school programs are a proven model of increasing markets for farmers via child nutrition programs while also providing children healthy, fresh food. These grants to states and territories administering farm to school programs will support increased procurement and use of local foods in child nutrition program meals.
    •    Increases Healthy Food Financing Initiative to $155 million. Aimed at ‘food deserts’, this program provides grants and loans to entities that offer healthy food in communities that are underserved by grocery stores and other food retailers.
    •    $25 million to support SNAP technology improvements to modernize the delivery of incentive programs through SNAP’s electronic benefit transfer (EBT) technology.  Reliable, affordable, user-friendly technology is important to enabling producers and food businesses to accept SNAP benefits from customers.  This will support more project funds going to incentives rather than the administrative costs of delivering the incentive.
    •    Up to $90 million to prevent and reduce food loss and waste.  Wasted food results in unnecessary uses of energy as well as methane and CO2 emissions; reducing food waste can help the United States meet its climate commitments. USDA will invest an additional $30 million in the Community Compost and Food Waste Reduction Program and will fund a feasibility study and corresponding actions that will support a National Food Loss and Waste Strategy.

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DOL May Revoke Arizona’s OSHA Plan

The U.S. Department of Labor announced a proposal to reconsider or revoke Arizona’s state OSHA plan. If implemented, it would lead to federal OSHA taking over regulation of private employers in the state.  Arizona is among the 22 states that have their own OSHA State Plan agencies that regulate private employers.  State Plans are monitored by OSHA and must be at least as effective as OSHA in protecting workers and in preventing work-related injuries, illnesses and deaths.
 
OSHA monitors and evaluates State Plans annually to determine whether the State Plan is continuing to operate at least as effectively as OSHA, track a State Plan's progress in achieving its strategic and annual performance goals, and ensure that the State Plan is meeting its mandated responsibilities under the Act and other relevant regulations. Where OSHA determines that a state plan is failing to regulate and or adequately enforce occupational health and safety regulations, the agency may initiate proceedings to revoke approval of the State Plan and reinstate federal OSHA authority.
 
According to DOL, “OSHA has grown increasingly concerned that actions by the Arizona State OSHA Plan suggest the state is either unable or unwilling to maintain its commitment to provide a program for worker safety and health protection as the OSH Act requires. OSHA indicate that Arizona has failed to adopt adequate maximum penalty levels, occupational safety and health standards, National Emphasis Programs and – most recently – the COVID-19 Healthcare Emergency Temporary Standard.”
 
The agency contends that Arizona has engaged in a “nearly a decade-long pattern of failures to adopt and enforce standards and enforcement policies at least as effective as federal OSHA’s”.  DOL’s action may have been due to Arizona’s failure to respond to OSHA’s October 19, 2021 courtesy letter concerning the State’s failure to adopt OSHA’s COVID-19 healthcare emergency temporary standard (ETS) within 30 days of its June 21, 2021 publication in the Federal Register. South Carolina and Utah also received such letters, however those States responded by issuing ETSs.
 
OSHA’s proposal on Arizona decertification is available for public inspection in the Federal Register and was published on April 21, 2022; publication starts the revocation process. The public can comment on the proposal until May 26, 2022, and an online hearing may be held on August 16, 2022. After reviewing comments and other evidence, OSHA will announce its reconsideration and revocation decision on the final approval of Arizona’s State plan through another Federal Register notice.
 

Food Safety Training Course Open – Sign Up Today!


In cooperation with Kiley Harper-Larsen, owner of The Ag Safety Lady, and our friends at Frey Farms (Keene, Illinois), the NWA is extending an invitation to you to participate in a PCQI certification course that includes training on HACCP’s 7 principles and 12 implementation steps. 
 
The class, titled “FSPCA Preventive Controls for Human Food for the Watermelon Industry + HACCP Coordinator Review“, will assist an organization in meeting its legal FDA requirements to have a qualified individual (PCQI) if the organization handles, packs or repacks on any given day more than 51% of product that is not grown by the organization or if the organization processes any covered food item regulated by this FSMA rule.
 
Course: Online PCQI Certification - Watermelon Packing  
Dates: May 5 & May 6, 2022
Times: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm EST
Online Platform: Zoom
Cost: $1000.00 each participant
To register: [email protected] or text 561-261-9747
 
Kiley will lead a VIRTUAL but interactive training session (via ZOOM) across two days from 8:00 am – 6:00 pm each day.  The course will NOT include full International HACCP Alliance certification with gold seal, but it will meet the requirements of PrimusGFS v3.2 audit questions 6.01.02 and 7.01.02.  Both questions state that an organization’s HACCP and Preventive Controls Coordinator training is acceptable if it includes the following: “Preventive Control Qualified Individual (PCQI) training can also be accepted, as long as it is equivalent to the International HACCP Alliance training (covers the 7 Codex Alimentarius HACCP principles and the 12 HACCP implementation steps).”  
 
This certification also helps fulfill new audit requirements for being the formal on-site, qualified food safety coordinator for a facility. The course agenda showing times and topics covered must always accompany the certification to be acceptable by a PrimusGFS auditor.  Each participant will get an electronic (Adobe PDF) Preventive Controls for Human Food manual and copy of the instructor’s HACCP Coordinator Review presentation emailed to them one day prior to the scheduled course.  SIGN UP TODAY!


FSPCA - PCQI Course.pdf
Your Lead Instructor.pdf
 

Food Safety Training Course Open – Sign Up Today!


In cooperation with Kiley Harper-Larsen, owner of The Ag Safety Lady, and our friends at Frey Farms (Keene, Illinois), the NWA is extending an invitation to you to participate in a PCQI certification course that includes training on HACCP’s 7 principles and 12 implementation steps. 
 
The class, titled “FSPCA Preventive Controls for Human Food for the Watermelon Industry + HACCP Coordinator Review“, will assist an organization in meeting its legal FDA requirements to have a qualified individual (PCQI) if the organization handles, packs or repacks on any given day more than 51% of product that is not grown by the organization or if the organization processes any covered food item regulated by this FSMA rule.
 
Course: Online PCQI Certification - Watermelon Packing  
Dates: May 5 & May 6, 2022
Times: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm EST
Online Platform: Zoom
Cost: $1000.00 each participant
To register: [email protected] or text 561-261-9747
 
Kiley will lead a VIRTUAL but interactive training session (via ZOOM) across two days from 8:00 am – 6:00 pm each day.  The course will NOT include full International HACCP Alliance certification with gold seal, but it will meet the requirements of PrimusGFS v3.2 audit questions 6.01.02 and 7.01.02.  Both questions state that an organization’s HACCP and Preventive Controls Coordinator training is acceptable if it includes the following: “Preventive Control Qualified Individual (PCQI) training can also be accepted, as long as it is equivalent to the International HACCP Alliance training (covers the 7 Codex Alimentarius HACCP principles and the 12 HACCP implementation steps).”  
 
This certification also helps fulfill new audit requirements for being the formal on-site, qualified food safety coordinator for a facility. The course agenda showing times and topics covered must always accompany the certification to be acceptable by a PrimusGFS auditor.  Each participant will get an electronic (Adobe PDF) Preventive Controls for Human Food manual and copy of the instructor’s HACCP Coordinator Review presentation emailed to them one day prior to the scheduled course.  SIGN UP TODAY!


FSPCA - PCQI Course.pdf
Your Lead Instructor.pdf

 

NWA Convention Kicks-off 2022 with Sweet Notes


The 107th National Watermelon Association Convention & Annual Meeting was held in late February in Downtown Nashville, TN.  With a very good turnout in attendance, the support and love shown for the Association helped to make up for the missed convention in 2021 due to the coronavirus.  From start to finish, music led the way as we shared fellowship, networked, conducted business, greeted old friends, made new ones and enjoyed being together once again.
 
Bob and his team are so appreciative of everyone’s support and involvement.  Our members truly make this a family get-together, which is what we call (internally) our Annual Watermelon Family Reunion.  Thank you all for coming, for getting involved, for your support, and for being members of this great Association.  You are the reasons why we do what we do each and every day.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve. 
 
The Special Issue (e-blast) that was sent out earlier this week captures many of the pictorial highlights.  You can look at over 2500 pictures from the convention on your website, www.watermelon.ag.  The memories continue to be made every year by our Watermelon Family.
 
As we turn the page and look forward we set our sights on the coming domestic harvest and shipping season, and the unknown challenges that we will face and address ahead.  During that time we will also begin our plans for your next stop in the ever-growing memory books – the Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina next February.  Cherish the memories, and plan to make new ones along the way.   God Bless you all!   



 
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