We are no longer accepting applications for the 2022 program. Details on this page apply to the 2022 round of funding. The next application period is expected to open in 2023.

The Produce Safety Mini-Grant helps reimburse Minnesota produce farmers for expenses that improve on-farm food safety systems including water testing for generic E. coli and/or other on-farm food safety improvements.

Amount Available

The Produce Safety Program has approximately $18,400 to distribute via this mini-grant. Funding comes from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG).

This grant provides reimbursement up to $800 per farm. No matching funds from the applicant are required.

Eligible Applicants

Applicants must:

  • Be a Minnesota produce farmer that sells 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.
  • Have an eligible expense that occurred between September 30, 2020 - March 12, 2022 or planned expense between March 13, 2022 - August 31, 2022.

What expenses are eligible for reimbursement?

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. coli. Post 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 or 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

Types of funding and eligible timeframes

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

Funding Priorities

All Minnesota produce farmers that sell one or 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.

Application Scoring Criteria Score
Minnesota produce farm which grows one or more of identified crops (meets minimum eligibility) 50
The majority of the farm's operators meet the demographic definition of "Emerging Farmers," as defined in the application 20
The principal operators of the farm have been involved in the farm's operations for less than 10 years 15
At least one responsible party has attended a FSMA Produce Safety Rule Grower Training and/or attended minimum half-day (3+ hours) Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) training offered by the University of Minnesota Extension 5
The 2022 Annual Grower Questionnaire has been completed 5
A farm which is fully "Covered" by the Produce Safety Rule and must follow the full standards of the rule 5
Total 100

 Applying

We are accepting applications from February 7, 2022, through March 12, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. CST.

  • We must receive all parts of the application before it is considered complete. Incomplete applications will be considered ineligible and notified of denial. Required documents:
    • Answer all questions that have an asterisk symbol (*) indicating they are required.
      • Answering additional questions may help you earn more points on your application.
    • If you are applying for past expenses you must include:
      • Documentation showing the date of purchase, item(s) purchased (water testing must indicate the methods used; for example, SM 9223B), that the item(s) were paid for and how much.
        • 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 you have attended an applicable produce safety training and want to receive points for that as part of your application you must include:
      • A certificate of attendance for a Produce Safety Rule Grower Training or a certificate of attending at minimum half-day (3+ hours) GAP training hosted by the University of Minnesota Extension.

What should I expect after I apply?

  • Award notices will be sent in April 2022.
  • Awardees will be required to register as a vendor with Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB) using the State Wide Integrated Financial Tools services (SWIFT) or complete and return an 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

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 3 at 4:00pm.

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

Feedback

We welcome comments about this mini-grant scope, application, and process, and we will consider them in developing future produce safety funding opportunities. Written comments can be emailed to ProduceSafety.MDA@state.mn.us at any point before October 31, 2022. In your comments, please state that you are commenting on the 2022 Produce Safety Mini-Grant.

This grant application and the 2022 Annual Grower Questionnaire are available in a paper format which can be returned via email or mail.