UMass Extension vegetable education specialist receives $144,617 grant

UMass Extension vegetable education specialist receives $144,617 grant
UMass Extension vegetable education specialist receives $144,617 grant | Courtesy of Shutterstock
University of Massachusetts (UMass) announced that Extension vegetable education specialist Lisa McKeag was awarded a $144,617 grant.

The two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Food Safety Outreach Program will fund McKeag's efforts to provide training and technical assistance to farmer and farmer's markets. New federal food safety guidelines have been implemented that affect growers and processors and how they handle fresh fruits and vegetables.

“Farmers have many questions about what the new federal law requires of them, and how that will play out when the law is enforced at the state level,” McKeag said. “Many small operations may be technically exempt from most of the requirements of FSMA, but growers are interested in training and new practices and tools that are appropriate for the scale of agriculture we have in Massachusetts so that they can meet the demands of their buyers, improve their efficiency and, above all, produce safe food.”

McKeag plans to adapt the current training materials to incorporate the new regulations on growing, harvesting and packing fruits and vegetables. By working with agricultural organizations in her outreach efforts, she can provide training and workshops for produce growers.

“My goals are to be available as a resource and connect farmers with the information that they need, and to identify underserved populations who might need assistance in getting up to speed,” McKeag said. “We hope with this project to get the same accurate information to educators across the state to ease the transition for farmers into this new regulatory environment.”

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