Inspection Services Blog

ISD Staff Spotlight: Kimber Collins-Florian enjoys ensuring fertilizing materials are suitable for organic crop and food production

NAME: Kimber Collins-Florian

YEARS AT CDFA: Almost 9 years

PROGRAM: Fertilizing Materials Inspection Organic Input Material Program

TITLE: Senior Environmental Scientist Specialist

USUAL DAILY ACTIVITIES ON THE JOB? Our program registers Organic Input Material (OIM) labels. OIMs are fertilizing materials suitable for organic crop and food production. During the review process, I confirm that a label is compliant with California fertilizing laws and regulations and that the product meets U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Program (NOP) standards. I look in detail at the manufacturing processes for each ingredient in the product and the final product. I am also the point person for questions regarding registering biochar as a fertilizing material.

HOW DO YOU WORK FOR THE CALIFORNIA FOOD SUPPLY? Organic crop and food production is a very important industry in California, and OIMs are essential components of this. When organic growers or organic certifiers use a fertilizing material registered as an OIM with our program, they can trust that it meets NOP standards and is suitable for organic crop and food production.

THOUGHTS OF WORKING AT INSPECTION SERVICES? Working at Inspection Services is both interesting and rewarding. Each year our program reviews thousands of OIM applications from California and around the world. This requires me to constantly learn about new products, processes and crop production, including the challenges and tools available to assist growers in the production of all the important crops grown in California.

PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE? Change your perspective to change your life, and practice gratitude daily.

SOMETHING UNIQUE ABOUT YOU? I am someone who is happiest experiencing life in nature. I hike, backpack, bike on the American River Bike trail and play on my paddle board whenever I can. If I’m indoors, I enjoy yoga. I also love traveling with my husband and spending time with my fur-kids (currently two senior cats), but I really miss my backyard chickens.

Posted in CDFA Feed, Fertilizer and Livestock Drugs Regulatory Services Branch, CDFA Fertilizing Materials Inspection Program, CDFA Inspection Services Division, CDFA Organic Input Material Program, ISD Staff Spotlight | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

CDFA accepting public comments on request for applications for Healthy Refrigeration Grant Program

The California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Farm to Fork (CDFA-F2F) is seeking public comment on a Healthy Refrigeration Grant Program request for applications (RFA), anticipated to be released in mid-December. Public comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. PT, December 12, 2022.

Two webinars will be held to provide information about the RFA and hear public comments. An English-language webinar will be 3-4:30 p.m. November 30 and a Spanish-language webinar will be 3-4:30 p.m. December 1. Click here to register for either webinar.

The purpose of the Healthy Refrigeration Grant Program is to improve access to healthy foods in underserved communities while promoting California-grown agriculture — through funding energy-efficient and climate-friendly refrigeration and freezer equipment in corner stores, small businesses, and food donation programs in low-income or low-food access areas throughout the state. The equipment is funded to stock California-grown fresh produce, nuts, eggs, meat and dairy products, as well as minimally processed and culturally appropriate foods.

Eligible entities for this program include corner stores, small businesses, food donation programs and nonprofits working with eligible sites and/or selling or donating food in low-income or low-access areas. Cities, counties, nonprofits or Tribal governments may also apply for equipment on behalf of eligible sites and may apply for up to 20% of total grant awards to provide technical assistance.

The RFA and registration for the informational webinars can be viewed on the Healthy Refrigeration Grant Program webpage. Stakeholders may submit comments by email to cafarmtofork@cdfa.ca.gov.

Click here to view this original CDFA news release.

Posted in CDFA Healthy Refrigeration Grant Program, CDFA Inspection Services Division, CDFA Office of Farm to Fork | Tagged , | Leave a comment

FREP/WPH Nutrient Management Conference reviewed on FREP Blog

Pre-conference farm tour stops included: Nitrogen and Irrigation Initiative introduction (Rachel Shellabarger, upper left), cover crops in pistachios (Daniele Zaccaria, upper right), nitrogen and irrigation management in Asian vegetables (Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, lower left), and Whole Orchard Recycling (Brent Holtz, lower right).

The 30th Annual Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP) and Western Plant Health (WPH) Nutrient Management Conference was held in Visalia, CA, October 26-27, 2022. The conference had more than 160 attendees, including crop consultants, growers, industry representatives, researchers and government personnel.

Click here to view a FREP Blog post that provides a quick recap of the pre-conference farm tour and two-day conference. Included are photos and instructions on how to access the full conference proceedings.

FREP is part of the Feed, Fertilizer and Livestock Drugs Regulatory Services branch of the California Department of Food and Agriculture Division of Inspection Services.

Posted in CDFA Feed, Fertilizer and Livestock Drugs Regulatory Services Branch, CDFA Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP), CDFA Inspection Services Division | Tagged , | Leave a comment

CDFA awards $25.5 million for Farm to School projects across California

As part of California’s nation-leading investment in farm to school programs, the California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Farm to Fork (CDFA-F2F) is excited to announce $25.5 million in funding for 120 farm to school projects across the state.

In total, these projects represent 1,489,364 students, 163 school districts and educational entities, over 50 farms, four food hubs and enormous support from California’s urban, rural and suburban communities.

The 2022 California Farm to School Incubator Grant Program offered four funding tracks, with opportunities for K-12 school districts, early care and education centers, agricultural producers and farm to school partnerships to receive funding.

“Each of these projects will help us build a healthy, equitable, resilient food system, and will give California farmers more opportunities to share fresh, nutritious, delicious, and locally grown products with our schoolchildren” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross.

The 2022 grant cycle received over $58 million in application requests and triple the number of project proposals from the previous year, highlighting the growth of farm to school across the state.

“Our investments in farm to school are investments in our health, our local economies, and our planet,” said First Partner of California Jennifer Siebel Newsom. “I am grateful for each of these projects for their commitment to supporting California children and our California farmers.”

Visit the CA Farm to School Incubator Grant Program website to view the full list of 2022 grantees. To learn more about CDFA’s farm to school programs, visit the CDFA Farm to School Program webpage

Click here to view this original post on CDFA’s Planting Seeds blog.

Posted in CDFA Farm to School Network, CDFA Farm to School Program, CDFA Inspection Services Division, CDFA Office of Farm to Fork | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How California produce farmers can prepare for Produce Safety Rule inspection

The Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) has published an interview with Sarah Standiford of CDFA’s Produce Safety Program as part of a Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) case study series. The interview highlights how California farms can prepare for a FSMA Produce Safety Rule inspection.

The article’s Q&A format reviews the background of why CDFA performs these inspections on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the steps that occur during an inspection, and tips for farmers preparing for an inspection.

“CDFA really values ‘soft skills’ in their inspectors and we understand that growers’ farms are their livelihoods,” Standiford says in the interview. “CDFA’s Produce Safety Program is here to help farms feel comfortable with the FSMA produce safety requirements and to foster compliance with the Produce Safety Rule. It’s a shared responsibility between growers, inspectors and farm employees – we all need to work together to keep our food safe.”

Click here to read the CAFF interview, “FSMA Inspection Case Study: CDFA FMSA PSP Inspector.” 

Click here to view this original post on CDFA’s Planting Seeds blog.

Posted in CDFA Inspection & Compliance Branch, CDFA Inspection Services Division, CDFA Produce Safety Program | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

CDFA accepting pre-proposals for 2023 Fertilizer Research and Education Program grant cycle

CDFA’s Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP) is now accepting pre-proposals for the 2023 cycle of the FREP Grant Program. If a pre-proposal is selected to advance in the evaluation process, a full proposal will be requested later.

FREP’s annual competitive grant program funds research, demonstration, outreach and education projects that advance environmentally safe and agronomically sound fertilization and irrigation practices, and minimize environmental impacts of fertilizing materials. The 2023 request for proposals includes several initiatives to help effectively manage irrigation water and fertilizing materials in California agriculture.

California’s agricultural communities are diverse, and many have historically lacked access to resources and information needed to successfully run their businesses. Thus, CDFA encourages projects that include demonstrable benefits for underserved farmers and farmworkers.

This year’s priorities include: outreach, education and demonstration projects focused on increasing the adoption of efficient nutrient and irrigation management practices and technologies; evaluating challenges and barriers to adoption of management practices; the role of organic input materials in soil nutrient management; demonstrating and/or validating management practices that optimize nutrient and/or irrigation water use; filling knowledge gaps for nutrient and irrigation management in specific crops; understanding nutrient movement from the root zone; and mitigation strategies to reduce nutrient losses.

Applicants are invited to submit two-page pre-proposals to FREP by Monday, December 19, 2022. Pre-proposals should be aligned with at least one of the identified priority research areas. Further information on the 2023 FREP Grant Program RFP, including timelines, application criteria and priority research areas are available on the program web page at www.cdfa.ca.gov/is/ffldrs/frep/CompetitiveGrantProgram.html 

All pre-proposals will be reviewed by the Fertilizer Inspection Advisory Board’s Technical Advisory Subcommittee (TASC). Applicants whose pre-proposals are selected by TASC will be invited to develop full proposals.

Since 1990, FREP has funded more than 260 projects, investing over $28 million in research, outreach and education projects focusing on best irrigation and nutrient management practices in California. A database of completed and ongoing research is available on the FREP research webpage at www.cdfa.ca.gov/go/FREPresearch. For more information, please send email inquiries to FREP@cdfa.ca.gov

Click here to view this original CDFA press release.

Posted in CDFA Feed, Fertilizer and Livestock Drugs Regulatory Services Branch, CDFA Fertilizer Research and Education Program (FREP), CDFA Inspection Services Division | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Commercial Feed Regulatory Program newsletter covers biosecurity guidelines, registration due dates, regulations updates and more

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) Commercial Feed Regulatory Program fall issue of the Quarterly Feed Update is available by clicking here.

Topics include:

  • Field Biosecurity Guidelines for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI)
  • HPAI Detection in Wild Birds in Los Angeles and Orange Counties
  • FDA Food Facility Registration Due
  • 2021 Crop Year Mycotoxin Report
  • Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Incorporation Regulations Approved
  • Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) Training
  • California Grain and Feed Association (CGFA) Hosts Grants Workshop
  • New CalRecycle Edible Food Recovery Requirements
  • Upcoming Public Meetings

The Commercial Feed Regulatory Program is part of the Feed, Fertilizer and Livestock Drugs Regulatory Services Branch of the CDFA Inspection Services Division.

Posted in CDFA Antimicrobial Use and Stewardship Program, CDFA Commercial Feed Regulatory Program, CDFA Feed, Fertilizer and Livestock Drugs Regulatory Services Branch, CDFA Inspection Services Division, CDFA Livestock Drug Program, CDFA Safe Animal Feed Education (SAFE) | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Southern California school garden program encourages students to recycle water for plants

Santiago Elementary School in Lake Forest (Orange County) is growing the next generation of water-wise Californians by encouraging students to recycle clean water for its school garden. In an Instagram post about the project the school asked, “Do you pour water from school down the drain each evening? When we see alternatives to the kitchen sink, there are lots of great ways to reuse our clean water – like giving it to plants!” CDFA applauds such forward thinking, in step with California agriculture’s water-wise practices, which have helped farmers and ranchers produce 38 percent more food with 14 percent less water over a 35-year period.

For more water-saving tips and ideas like this one, visit California’s Save Our Water website. And for more about what CDFA is doing to support the health and well-being of California students through food-based education and access to healthy foods, visit our Farm to School Program page.

Click here to view this original post on CDFA’s Planting Seeds blog.

Posted in CDFA Farm to School Network, CDFA Farm to School Program, CDFA Inspection Services Division, CDFA Office of Farm to Fork | Tagged , | Leave a comment

CDFA-F2F welcomes Sara Bernal to lead new Urban Agriculture Grant Program

Sara Bernal

The California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Farm to Fork (CDFA-F2F) welcomes Sara Bernal to lead the new Urban Agriculture Grant Program.

“Sara’s experience within all aspects of urban agriculture, from production and marketing to working with beginning farmers and community engagement, makes her the perfect fit to establish our new program,” CDFA-F2F Supervisor Elysia Fong said. “We are really excited to have her on board.”

CDFA’s Urban Agriculture Grant Program will help urban farmers and community-based organizations by funding urban food system infrastructure; supporting professional development opportunities, including ensuring youth from all backgrounds have access to paid positions and developing urban food systems; and funding technical assistance providers to offer mentorship, training and support.

Bernal’s job duties include developing the $12 million program, conducting listening sessions with the public, touring urban farms, providing bilingual (Spanish) technical assistance and developing resources that make federal and state resources more accessible to California’s urban farming community.

“I’m most excited to have the opportunity to engage with partners across the state, listen to their experiences, research policies and resources, and leverage this role to help Californians achieve their goals,” Bernal said. “This is a monumental time to be involved in supporting the world of urban agriculture and to find system-based strategies to elevate community work that promotes equity and creates stronger, more resilient neighborhoods.”

Bernal joins CDFA from the Center for Land-Based Learning (CLBL) in Yolo County, where she established the West Sacramento Urban Farm Program. While with CLBL, Bernal designed, built and supported eight urban farms, led farmer-to-farmer mentoring programs, implemented a mobile farmers’ market, secured federal and state grants, and helped facilitate regional food system planning. Bernal immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 7. As an adult she lived and worked in various countries, from Bangladesh to Costa Rica, fostering a belief that the best solutions to issues faced by communities come from those experiencing them. Bernal’s interest in agriculture stems from knowing that food is medicine and that we must all work toward creating communities where healthy, nutritious, ethically produced foods are accessible to all.

For more information, please visit the Urban Agriculture Grant Program website or email sara.bernal@cdfa.ca.gov.

Posted in CDFA Inspection Services Division, CDFA Office of Farm to Fork, Urban Agriculture Grant Program | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Farm to School Month — McFarland school district students learn about healthy food and gain insight for ag careers

During National Farm to School Month, CDFA continues to recognize and thank partners across California helping to improve the wellbeing of students through food-based education and equitable access to healthy food. One such partner is the McFarland Unified School District in Kern County, which is a grantee of the CDFA Farm to School Incubator Grant Program.

In 2021, the school district received funding to provide a healthy food curriculum to all students, exploring where their food comes from and how to make healthy choices. The funding also will help high school Ag Farm students learn how to produce and process almonds through an 80-acre Crop Science Field lab.

The school district is providing field instruction through a strong partnership with the McFarland chapter of Future Farmers of America (FFA). This partnership was recently featured in the PBS series “American Grown: My Job Depends on Ag.” The video highlights how important FFA and ag programs are for helping students gain insight for careers in agriculture.

Click here to view American Grown: My Job Depends on Ag | McFFArland, USA, and see how agriculture in McFarland is shaping young lives and how their world contrasts against other FFA programs in the Valley.

Click here to view this original post on the CDFA Planting Seeds blog.

Posted in CDFA Farm to School Network, CDFA Farm to School Program, CDFA Inspection Services Division, CDFA Office of Farm to Fork | Tagged , | Leave a comment