The deadline for this mini-grant has been extended through March 19, 2021 at 11:59 pm CST

The Produce Safety Water Testing for Generic E. coli Mini-Grant helps reimburse Minnesota produce farmers for the cost of water testing done for generic E. coli. This mini-grant is being offered as a pilot program for future grant funding that will be available from the Produce Safety Program.

Amount Available

The Produce Safety Program has approximately $2,800 to distribute via this pilot mini-grant. Funding comes from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG).

This program reimburses one hundred percent (100%) of a farm's generic E. coli water testing, up to $400 per farm. 

Eligible Applicants

Applicants must:

  • Be a Minnesota produce farmer that sells produce covered by the Produce Safety Rule (referred to as "covered produce").
    • Covered produce includes any produce crop that is NOT among the 34 following items: Asparagus; beans(black, great Northern, kidney, lima, navy, pinto); beets, garden (roots and tops); beets, sugar; cashews; cherries, sour; chickpeas; cocoa beans; coffee beans; collards; corn, sweet; cranberries; dates; dill (seeds and weed); eggplants; figs; ginger; hazelnuts; horseradish; lentils; okra; peanuts; pecans; peppermint; potatoes; pumpkins; squash, winter; sweet potatoes; and water chestnuts.
  • Have a minimum average of $5,000 in sales of covered produce annually.
  • Have purchased water testing for generic E. coli between September 30, 2017, and December 31, 2020.
  • Have documented proof of purchase for their water testing and submit copies of this documentation with the grant application.
    • Examples of this documentation include detailed receipts or invoices showing the date, amount paid, and testing completed.

Funding Priorities

All Minnesota produce farmers that meet the minimum eligibility listed above will be considered for grant funding. Each application will be evaluated and scored based on the criteria listed below. Funding priority will be given to those with the highest evaluation score. The highest score attainable is 100.

Application Scoring Criteria Score
At least one responsible party has attended a FSMA Produce Safety Rule Grower Training 15
At least one responsible party has attended at minimum half-day (3+ hours) Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) training offered by the University of Minnesota Extension 10
The 2021 Annual Grower Questionnaire has been completed 10
A farm which is fully "Covered" by the Produce Safety Rule and must follow the full standards of the rule 20
A farm which grows sprouts, leafy greens (spinach, cabbage, watercress, lettuce, and salad leaves), fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, parsley, chicory), melons, onion-bulb, garlic-bulb, carrots, or cucumbers 10

The majority of the farm's operations meet the demographic definition of "Emerging Farmers," as defined in the application OR

the farm is considered an urban farm, See pages 16 and 17 of the 2021 AGRI Urban Agriculture Request for Proposals for a complete listing of locations that meet this definition.

20
The principal operators of the farm have been involved in the farm's operations for less than 10 years 15
Total 100

 Applying

We are accepting applications from January 12, 2021, through March 19, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. CST.

  • The MDA will review applications to ensure the applicant is eligible.
  • We must receive all parts of the application before it is considered complete. Incomplete applications will be considered ineligible and notified of denial. Documents that are required:
    • Completed grant application
    • Documentation showing water testing for Generic E. coli was purchased and paid for between September 30, 2017, and December 31, 2020.
      • If applicable, certificate of attendance for a Produce Safety Rule Grower Training (for trainings not hosted by the MDA) or GAPs Training attendance must be submitted in order for points to be awarded.
  • Award notices will be sent in April 2021.
    • Awardees will be required to return a completed Internal Revenue Service (IRS) W9 in order to receive payment.
  • The application can be completed online or with a paper form. Paper applications can be:
    • Emailed to ProduceSafety.MDA@state.mn.us
    • Or, mailed to:
      • Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Attention: Produce Safety Program, 625 Robert Street North, Saint Paul, MN 55155

To complete the online applications, please include:

  • Electronic copy(ies) of your proofs of purchase for generic E. coli testing (receipts, paid invoices, etc.).
    • This documentation should include the date(s) of testing service provided and should be between September 30, 2017, and December 31, 2020 to be eligible.
    • If there is sensitive information in the documents, please cover, remove or redact it before making copies of your documents. We do not need to know your bank account, credit card information, or the results of testing.
  • If applicable, include a certificate of attendance for a Produce Safety Rule Grower Training (if not hosted by the MDA).
  • If applicable, include a certificate of attending at minimum half-day (3+ hours) GAPs training hosted by the University of Minnesota Extension.

Informational Webinar

A webinar was hosted on January 21, 2021.

Link to recording of webinar.

A recording of the webinar is posted above. In this webinar, staff reviewed the mini-grant pilot program and answered questions about the requirements and application process. Questions asked were added to the list of Questions and Answers about the grant.

Questions

For questions, please contact the Produce Safety Program via email at ProduceSafety.MDA@state.mn.us or call 651-539-3641. Questions about the grant must be submitted by March 11 at 4:00pm.

All questions asked are added to the regularly updated list of Questions and Answers about the grant.

This grant application and the 2021 Annual Grower Questionnaire are available in a paper format which can be returned via email or mail.