The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded Tropical Fruit Growers of South Florida Inc., Homestead, a specialty crop grant worth more than $4.4 million. The grant, part of a Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, is targeted to food safety programs.
The group received the grant money at the end of 2012, vice president Louise King said.
The two-year grant will fund work at the association, along with the University of Florida’s Tropical Research Education Center and the Miami-Dade County Extension Office, to help growers develop food safety programs, King said.
“It will teach them how to make a food safety manual and let them know that this is coming down the pike, and eventually if they don’t have a food safety plan now, they’ll need to have one,” King said.
The grant will enable small and mid-sized growers in the area to meet good agricultural practice and harvest standards under the Food Safety Modernization Act. It also will fund seminars, workshops, websites and videos, King said.
“We also do a couple of mock audits,” she said.
King’s organization represents up to 80 growers of avocados, bananas, carambola, guava, dragon fruit, lychee, longan, mangoes, papayas and jackfruit, among other items, she said.