Center for Agriculture and Food Security and Preparedness (CAFSP)


CAFSPThe Center for Agriculture and Food Security and Preparedness (CAFSP) is located at The University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in Knoxville, TN. Founded in October of 2006, the Center is dedicated to protecting and enhancing the safety of agriculture and the food supply through the conduct of investigation and research, and through the provision of high quality educational and training programs. The Center, under the direction of Dr. Sharon Thompson, combines the expertise of University of Tennessee faculty with other institutions across the country to address current issues related to food defense, food safety, foreign animal diseases, emergency preparedness, and more. The Center serves as a focal point for several key national initiatives to protect agriculture and the food supply from terrorist threats, and to promote safer food production and processing practices. 

Since 2005, the Center has administered over 15.9 million dollars in competitively awarded grant funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to support the development and delivery of high quality national training programs focused on adult learners in the work force from industry and from federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal agencies. CAFSP training programs are delivered nationwide to participants at the community level as well as online. The training programs incorporate all key adult learning principles, collect objective performance data, and have undergone a rigorous peer review process.

In 2011, CAFSP was awarded a $6.6 million multi-year grant from the US Food and Drug Administration to support development of a national food safety and training curriculum. The trainings developed through this grant are utilizing both online and instructor-led courses. 

In 2012, CAFSP, partnering with the Tennessee Department of Health, University of Tennessee Department of Food Science and Technology and the University of Tennessee Department of Public Health, was named as one of only five national Centers of Excellence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These five Centers will focus on research, teaching and training to address issues associated with foodborne illnesses. To view the Tennessee Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence, CLICK HERE.

Our Course Development Process

The Center has developed a well-recognized, national training program through a competitive grant supported process and has been able to document the high quality of the Center's developed programs through documented performance assessment data. Courses are developed with subject matter experts and instructional designers that specialize in adult learning techniques and each CAFSP course is designed to allow the participants to achieve all the expected learning outcomes defined in the training process. CAFSP has developed innovative training courses using a variety of modalities, included instructor- led, web based and video based training.

The instructor led trainings (ILT) include hands on activities and incorporate multiple videos to enhance the learning content. Delivery of our ILT courses are coordinated through a local Point of Contact and are provided on-site at the requesting agency or institution. These courses utilize a dynamic didactic learning process that focuses on the adult learner. These courses provide participants with knowledge and, through the use of the videos and carefully designed exercises, an opportunity to apply that knowledge.

We have also developed and implemented trainings for "just-in-time" needs to address emerging issues for industry and federal agencies, such as bagged salad production concerns. These "just in time" trainings can be web-based or instructor led, depending on the need and the particular issue.

Department of Homeland Security Trainings

Department of Homeland Security

CAFSP has developed and delivers several national training programs for the Department of Homeland Security. Initial trainings that were developed focused on agriculture and food vulnerability assessment. Development of these training programs were initially funded by a $2 million grant received in the fall of 2005 from DHS. This training program provides industry and government officials at the state, county, and local levels across the country with tools to prevent and deter terrorist or criminal acts that target the agricultural and food sector. This program focuses on the entire food and agriculture chain – from farm to fork. The Center has been training the food and agriculture sector to utilize vulnerability assessments to identify and mitigate weaknesses within individual facilities.

In 2009, the Center was awarded additional training grants from DHS. Of only 11 grants the DHS awarded that year, the Center received two of them totaling nearly $5 million. The first award was for a training program to aid in the coordination of resources between the public and private sectors and across state lines by using national credentialing standards in the event of an animal-related disaster. The second was for the development of effective information sharing networks between law enforcement, public safety agencies, and the private sector on the importation and transportation of food and animal feed in the United States. Both training programs are currently being delivered nationally.

The Center has also developed two introductory level trainings, “Use of a Standardized Credentialing Program for Management of an Animal Emergency Response and Recovery” and "Sharing Information and Intelligence Related to Food Importation and Transportation" in a web based format, as well as a video based training for the food transportation industry.

• MGT 332 has been taught to 2197 persons in 37 states multiple times and three U.S. Territories (North Marianas Islands)

• MGT337 has been taught to 2252 persons in 27 states multiple times and Italy and Guam and U.S. 3 Territories

• PER259 has been taught to 1019 persons in 22 states multiple times and  3 territories

• MGT364 has been taught to 431 persons in 15 states multiple times 3 territories and Guam

Food and Drug Administration Trainings

Food and Drug Administration

In 2011, CAFSP was awarded a $6.6 million multi-year grant from the US Food and Drug Administration to support development of a national food safety and training curriculum. CAFSP’s grant, which is designed to address training needs for food and agriculture officials identified in the Food Safety and Modernization Act, is addressing Special Processes at retail, HACCP, and food issues associated with natural and technological disasters. Additional areas of concern to food regulatory officials will be addressed over the course of the five year grant. The trainings developed through this grant are utilizing both web-based and instructor-led courses. 

The Center has developed several web-based courses for food regulators focusing on food processing safety. Our approach is to creatively integrate the subject matter content into an enhanced distance learning experience, rather than create a web-based training that simply provides the course content for the participants to read or listen to with little participatory interaction. These web-based courses use a wide variety of resources, such as multimedia, hyperlinks to pertinent reports, publications and websites that are geared to create an effective, efficient learning experience.


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