USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service will award $275,000 to nine states to help educate food-animal producers about production practices that promote food safety.

Through cooperative agreements, FSIS provides states with funding and resources to develop state-level animal production food-safety partnerships. FSIS enters into these agreements with State Departments of Agriculture and/or state animal health agencies to encourage development of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point-compatible animal production food-safety practices.

"Partnerships between FSIS and these nine states will further enhance communication and cooperation and will improve food-safety practices on the farm," says Barbara Masters, acting FSIS administrator. "These initiatives provide critically important information to producers about minimizing potentially dangerous pathogens."

States that will receive funding are: Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia.

The funds will support a variety of educational programs and initiatives, including demonstrations of best-management practices for producers, methods to improve humane handling of livestock, antibiotic residue avoidance and compliance with the Food and Drug Administration's ruminant-feed ban.

Developing and implementing best-management practices to reduce foodborne pathogens before slaughter is a goal outlined in USDA's food-safety vision paper, "Enhancing Public Health: Strategies for the Future." The science-based initiatives outlined in the vision document will help FSIS better understand, predict and prevent microbiological contamination of meat and poultry products.