Tag Archives: Workforce Development


USDA Launches “From Learning to Leading: Cultivating the Next Generation of Diverse Food and Agriculture Professionals Program”

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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The USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has announced a $262.5 million investment to foster the next generation of diverse agricultural professionals across the nation. This program is funded by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which aims to lower costs for American families, expand access to markets to producers from all backgrounds and communities, build a clean energy economy and strengthen American supply chains. The $262.5 million investment will provide training and support to more than 20,000 future food and agricultural leaders through 33 project partners.

“Each generation of agricultural professionals faces new challenges as we feed our world’s growing population, and the future generations give me hope that we will rise to the occasion to meet these challenges with opportunity,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We need to ensure our youth have the education and training they need to accelerate the development of an agricultural system that is climate-smart, sustainable, profitable and equitable. This historic investment from the Biden-Harris Administration in our nation’s Minority-serving Institutions brings us closer to building a workforce that represents the richness and diversity of all the communities we serve.”

From Learning to Leading: Cultivating the Next Generation of Diverse Food and Agriculture Professionals Program” (NextGen) will enable eligible institutions of higher learning to build and sustain the next generation of food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences workforce. This includes efforts to strengthen USDA’s workforce through enhanced educational support, experiential learning and exposure to early career opportunities. Eligible institutions include: 1890 Land-grant Universities, 1994 Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving Institutions (HSI), Alaska Native-serving and Native Hawaiian-serving Institutions and institutions of higher education located in the insular areas, as well as their partners.

“The vision we have at NIFA is to feed and nourish all Americans and create economic opportunity for more American families. Equity and diversity are the two central elements in this vision. One goal of the NextGen program is to identify, inspire and prepare our youth, particularly in underrepresented communities, to be the next generation of hunger fighters and agricultural problem solvers. This is the right thing to do and the right time,” said NIFA Director Dr. Manjit Misra.

Each project will be funded for a period of five years. Examples of awarded projects include:

1994 Tribal Land-grant Institutions

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College’s project is a collaborative effort between Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College and Leech Lake Community College, bringing together two 1994 Land-grant Colleges to build sustainable educational and experiential systems to prepare Tribal college students to enter agricultural and STEM workforces. ($9 million)

Hispanic-serving Institutions

Luna Community College (LCC), a Hispanic-Serving Institution in Las Vegas, New Mexico, will implement the Luna Initiative for Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources and Human Sciences (FANH)Training and Education (LIFTE) Project, which will address recruitment, enrollment and retention issues of students pursuing academic degrees or noncredit training programs in the Luna Agriculture and Natural Resource Development Center. LIFTE will also expand its training of FANH professionals to increase the workforce required to restore, re-build and re-invigorate forests, farm/range lands and waterways catastrophically damaged during the worst wildfire in New Mexico history, which occurred within LCC’s serving area in the summer of 2022.

1890 Historically Black Land-grant Institutions

North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina, in partnership with Tuskegee University, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Virginia State University, Florida A&M University, Fort Valley State University, University of Maryland at Eastern Shore, and North Carolina State University will implement the “System Approach to Promote Learning and Innovation for the Next GenerationS (SAPLINGS)” of Professionals and Leaders in Food, Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Human Sciences program with a goal of training 6,134 grade 5-12 students, 326 grade 5-12 educators, and 5,871 college students; reach 980 families; engaging more than 30 partners; and enhancing underrepresented minority student enrollment, retention, and graduation rates at 1890 LGUs to grow the next generation of diverse workers, leaders, and innovators for food, agriculture, natural resources and human sciences (FANH) careers.

To track and report the benefits and impacts of the NextGen program, NIFA is partnering with the Intercultural Development Research Association. In addition to this effort, USDA announced the release of two new public dashboards allowing users to access high-level data about agricultural research funding investments and applicants to track the status of their grant applications.


Restaurant Food

National Assessment Aims to Identify Food Safety Training Needs

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Restaurant Food

The National Environmental Health Association (NEHA), a professional society of governmental, private, academic and uniformed services sector environmental health professionals, has launched a new national assessment aimed at identifying the knowledge and training needs of retail food regulators. The NEHA is asking individuals working in retail regulatory food safety to complete a needs assessment survey, which was developed by NEHA as part of the NEHA-FDA Retail Flexible Funding Model (RFFM) Grant Program. The findings will be used by NEHA to bolster educational resources, reduce knowledge gaps and improve workforce capabilities to help ensure safe retail food for the public.

“This assessment is essentially a national census of the retail food regulatory community. It is significant for both what it includes and who it surveys,” said Rance Baker, director of the Entrepreneurial Zone department at NEHA. “With so many competing interests pursuing the same financial resources, it is important that we determine where the training dollars are needed most. This survey will look at the intersection between curricula and needs in the retail food regulatory community to identify the gaps in the integrated food safety system.”

Complete the survey here.



Poulty Farmer

USDA NIFA Invests in Meat and Poultry Agriculture Workforce Training and Mitigating Antimicrobial Resistance Across the Food Chain

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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Poulty Farmer

On May 26, 2022, The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced an investment of $25 million, as part of the American Rescue Plan for meat and poultry agriculture workforce training. NIFA will invest $25 million through new and existing workforce development programs to provide a pipeline of well-trained workers to meet the demand increased independent processing capacity.
“These investments will enhance equity and capacity across the food supply chain by supporting meat and poultry research, education and training at the local level. USDA will leverage its robust regional education and extension networks and establish new, or supplement existing, Centers of Excellence at Minority-serving Institutions to support this capacity-building effort,” said Acting NIFA Director Dr. Dionne Toombs. “Workforce training will increase the resiliency and competitiveness of our local and regional supply chains and support the industry’s urgent need for highly skilled talent to meet labor demands across the country.”

The investment includes two funding opportunities:

  • Extension Risk Management Education and Sustainable Agriculture Research Education Programs: An investment of $5 million will be split equally between Extension Risk Management Education and Sustainable Agriculture Research Education programs. Work in these programs will support development of meat and poultry processing training and educational materials for place-based needs, particularly relevant to small- or medium-sized farmers and ranchers. Additionally, training local and/or regional meat and poultry workers presents a unique opportunity to address the demand from niche markets, like mobile processing units fulfilling market demand from fresh markets, on-site processing, farm-to-fork (restaurateurs), boutique grocers and others.
  • Community/Technical College Ag Workforce Training and Expanded Learning Opportunities: This Agricultural Workforce Training (AWT) investment makes available $20 million to qualified community colleges to support meat and poultry processing workforce development programs. The AWT program seeks to develop a workforce ready for the field as well as industry jobs in the food and agricultural sectors. By creating new workforce training programs, or expanding, improving, or renewing existing workforce training programs at community, junior, and technical colleges/institutes, this program will expand job-based, experiential learning opportunities, acquisition of industry-accepted credentials and occupational competencies for students to enable a workforce for the 21st century.

The NIF also announced an investment of more than $5 million to mitigate antimicrobial resistance across the food chain. “Pathogen resistance to antimicrobials is a complex problem, encompassing human medicine, poultry and livestock health, and even plant crop production,” said Dr. Toombs. “The projects supported through this investment will work to ensure a safe, nutritious and abundant food supply while conserving antimicrobial effectiveness.”
This investment is part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s Mitigating Antimicrobial Resistance Across the Food Chain grant program, which supports integrated research, education and extension projects. Research approaches include risk assessment, antibiotic management and stewardship, advancing understanding of emerging resistant pathogens and their mechanisms for resistance, and disease control using antimicrobial alternatives. NIFA’s work contributes to the overall federal strategy to combat antimicrobial resistance as described in the Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria National Action Plan 2020-2025.

Nine projects are being funded, totaling $5,117,165. Examples of the funded projects include:

  • Scientists at the University of Florida will study the effects on naturally occurring bacteria when citrus greening disease-infected trees are sprayed with antibiotics to characterize development of antimicrobial resistance. ($299,999)
  • Scientists at the Iowa State University of Science and Technology will model the movement of bacteria through different environments, such as surface and subsurface water, as a route for bacterial movement from animal and human waste to plant crops. ($1,000,000)
  • Scientists in Veterinary Preventive Medicine at The Ohio State University will study the movement of auctioned male calves through the market to better understand the use of antimicrobial drugs to prevent and treat disease. ($999,938)

To sign up for notifications of these and other NIFA funding opportunities visit the NIFA Funding Opportunities page.