Here are some common questions about the Produce Safety Mini-Grant. If you have questions that are not addressed here, please email them to ProduceSafety.MDA@state.mn.us with "Mini-Grant Inquiry" in the subject line. We will post all questions and answers on this page.

Last updated 03/14/2022 at 9:00 am CST

About the Grant

This mini-grant will cover expenses related to improvements in on-farm food safety systems including water testing for generic E. coli and/or other on-farm food safety improvements. Below is a list of items eligible for reimbursement. If you have questions about an item that is not listed, please contact the Produce Safety Program.

  • Water testing for generic E. coli
    • Pre-harvest water: must be a quantitative testing method for generic E. coliPost-harvest water: can be presence/absence or quantitative testing method for generic E. coli.
  • Plastic or paper liners
  • Harvest collection tools
  • Market containers
  • Supplies to build of purchase a portable handwashing station
  • Canvas bags
  • Sanitizer used for wash water and food contact surfaces
  • Consultation fees for developing an on-farm food safety plan
  • Wax boxes
  • Harvest totes
  • Carts and pull wagons
Reimbursement Type Timeframe Required Documentation
Past September 30, 2020 - March 12, 2022 Proof of purchase with application
Planned March 13, 2022 - August 31, 2022 Proof of purchase after grant approval for reimbursement
Past and Planned September 30, 2020 - March 12, 2022
AND
March 13, 2022 - August 31, 2022
Proof of purchase with application
AND
Proof of purchase after grant approval for reimbursement

 

  • Minnesota produce farmers that sell one or more of the following crops:
    • Leafy greens, apples, berries, cucumbers, green beans, melons, microgreens, mushrooms, onions, peppers, sprouts, summer squash/zucchini, tomatoes, carrots, garlic, herbs.
      • Note: this list was revised to include carrots, garlic, and herbs on 02/09/2022
  • Have an eligible expense that occurred between September 30, 2020 - March 12, 2022 or planned expense between March 13, 2022 - August 31, 2022.
  • Have documented proof of purchase for the eligible expense and submit copies of this documentation with the grant application.
    • Examples of this documentation include detailed receipts or invoices showing the date, and amount paid. 

 

Submission Process

  • Online: Supporting documentation can be uploaded via the webform along with the application.
  • Email the application and supporting documentation as attachments to: ProduceSafety.MDA@state.mn.us
  • Mail the application and supporting documentation to:
    • Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Attention: Produce Safety Program - Mini-Grant, 625 Robert Street North, Saint Paul, MN 55155

Supporting documents can be submitted as:

  • Scan(s) of the document(s)
  • Digital photograph(s) of the document(s)

Note: Do no submit original documents as they will not be returned. If you do not have access or ability to scan or photograph the documents, please contact your local Extension office or library; they may be able to assist.

No, your grant application and all supporting documents should be submitted via the same method and at one time.

Timeline, Review, and Scoring

  • Applications will be accepted February 7 - March 12, 2022 at11:59 pm CST.
    • Mailed applications must be post-marked by March 12 to be eligible.
  • Questions about the grant must be submitted by March 3 at 4:00 pm CST.
  • Applications will be reviewed and scored March 28 - April 1, 2022. Ineligible applications will be issued denial notices, as they are received.
  • Award notices will be sent by April 14, 2022.
  • Awardees will be required to submit to register as a vendor with SWIFT or turn in W9 no later than May 1, 2022.
    • Mailed W9's must be post-marked by May 1
  • Awardees who submitted past expenses (only) should receive reimbursement after June 1, 2022
  • Awardees who applied for planned (or both past and planned expenses) should received reimbursement 30-60 days after all proof of purchase is received or after October 1, 2022.

All Minnesota produce farmers that sell one of more of the crops listed above are eligible to apply. If more applications are received than can be funded, funding will be prioritized for emerging farmers, as well as farms that have engaged with the Produce Safety Program through training, the annual Grower Questionnaire, and/or inspections.

In the event of a tie, the funds will be awarded to the completed application that was submitted first.

The submittal date for mailed applications will be noted as 12:01 am on the day the application was postmarked. This is provided the application received is complete and the applicant meets the minimum eligibility. 

An incomplete mini-grant application or one that is missing necessary documentation will be denied. A letter advising the reason for denial will be sent to the applicant. A new application can be submitted with the necessary documentation, if the applicant is interested in reapplying. Note: Proof of purchase is required to be submitted with the grant application when applying for reimbursement of past expenses.

If you indicate that someone from your farm has completed a Produce Safety Rule Training or a Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) training from the University of Minnesota Extension, but you do not provide a certificate of attendance, your application will be reviewed. However, points will not be awarded for completion of a food safety training. 

Documentation

No, the results of your water testing are not required for funding. We only need proof that water testing for generic E. coli was purchased and paid for during the eligible expense period. It must also indicate the method used for testing, example: 9223B.

A notarized affidavit may be submitted in the event you do not have documentation reflecting when the item(s) were purchased, what item(s) were purchased, or the amount paid. Templates or examples of affidavits can be found online. The affidavit must include:

  • the date of purchase,
  • the name of where the purchase was made,
  • detail of what was purchased (water testing must include method tested for),
  • and amount paid. 

Please note, a notarized affidavit is only needed if you do not have proof of purchase. Any receipts, invoices, etc. do not need to be notarized. 

  • If you attend a FSMA Produce Safety Rule Grower Training, or
  • If you attended a GAP's training hosted by the University of Minnesota Extension, we will require a copy of the certificate of attendance. The University of Minnesota Extension only issues certificates of attendance for GAPs trainings that are minimum half-day (3+ hours) in length. 
  • Points will only be awarded once. If you attended both trainings, only one proof of attendance is necessary to be awarded the 5 points.
  • If you no longer have a copy of your certificate of attendance for a Grower Training, please contact the Produce Safety Program.
  • If you no longer have a copy of your certificate of attendance for a GAPs training (minimum half-day, 3+ hours) hosted by the University of Minnesota Extension, please submit a letter or an email from the University of Minnesota Extension staff verifying you have attended the training. Please contact Annalisa Hultberg at hultb006@umn.edu or 612-625-1951.

Yes, when submitting your documentation to show proof of purchase for generic E. coli water testing we will be looking for the documentation to either indicate that the testing was either for generic E. coli, or if the results are reported as total coliforms, we'll be evaluating the method listed on the documentation to verify that it matches the list of the FDA accepted methods for water testing for generic E. coli. If the method matches, the grower can submit for reimbursement. 

Other Questions

If your 2022 Grower Questionnaire was submitted to the Produce Safety Program but you have not received your current status letter, we will verify your current status and award points as necessary. Note, if you are unaware of your 2022 status but have your status from 2021, your 2021 farm status can be entered on the application. If your status has changed from the previous year, points will be adjusted as necessary.

We understand the inconvenience of multiple data requests, however, in order to maintain data privacy, we are asking you to submit this information separately from your annual Grower Questionnaire. If we used the data from your questionnaire response for this application, all of your questionnaire data could become public. 

Recently Submitted Questions

No, you would not be eligible under the current grant. The current mini-grant is available to produce farmers whose growing and harvesting activities are located within the state of Minnesota.

A wash station may be considered an eligible expense if it is portable. Permanent fixtures are not eligible for reimbursement under this grant.

Yes, a plastic bag that is used for packaged food items would be considered a "market container" and is an eligible expense. This is different than a plastic bag that might be provided to a customer, for example at a farmers market, to carry their purchased product. Those types of plastic bags would not be considered an eligible expense.

No, stainless steel tables and shelving are not eligible expenses under the current mini grant.

No. Permanent fixtures, or repairs to permanent fixtures, are not eligible for reimbursement under this grant.

We cannot award points for training that will be taking place after the mini-grant application deadline of 3/12/22.

Yes, if you have been growing and selling produce for less than 10 years you may answer “Yes” to the question of whether the farm’s principal operators have been involved in the farm’s operations for less than 10 years.