Center for Agriculture and Food Security and Preparedness (CAFSP)


CAFSPThe Center for Agriculture and Food Security and Preparedness (CAFSP) is located at the UT College of Veterinary Medicine on the UT Institute of Agriculture campus. Founded in 2005, CAFSP is dedicated to protecting and enhancing the safety of agriculture and the food supply through the conduction of investigation and research and through the provision of high quality educational and training programs. CAFSP, 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, bioterrorism, and more. CAFSP serves as a focal point for several key national and international initiatives to protect agriculture and the food supply from terrorist threats and to promote safer food production and processing practices.

>Since its formation in 2005, CAFSP has administered more than $25 million in competitively-awarded grant funding from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Department of State (DOS), and others to support the development and delivery of high quality national and international educational and training programs focused on adult learners that make up the work force in industries, other academic institutions, and federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal agencies. CAFSP has developed 25 instructor-led courses and 25 web courses since 2005 for the DHS, FDA, CDC, USDA, and DOS. CAFSP has conducted 266 mobile course deliveries with ~8,264 domestic and global participants trained, and CAFSP has hosted ~21,778 online course participants.

In 2011, CAFSP was awarded a $6.6 million multi-year grant from the FDA to support the 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 (CoEs) by the CDC. These five CoEs focus on research, teaching, and training to address issues associated with foodborne illnesses. To learn more, visit the Tennessee Integrated Food Safety Center of Excellence website.

Our Course Development Process

CAFSP has developed a well-recognized, national training program through a competitive, grant-supported process and has been able to validate the high quality of the programs they have developed through documented performance assessment data. Courses are developed with subject matter experts and instructional designers that specialize in adult learning techniques. Each CAFSP course is designed to enable 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, including instructor-led, online, hybrid, and video-based trainings.

The Instructor-Led Trainings (ILT), include hands-on activities and incorporate multiple videos to enhance the learning content. Delivery of our ILT courses is coordinated through a local Point of Contact (POC) and is 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 online 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 (DHS). 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. CAFSP has been training the food and agriculture sector to utilize vulnerability assessments to identify and mitigate weaknesses within individual facilities.

In 2009, CAFSP was awarded additional training grants from DHS. Of only 11 grants the DHS awarded that year, CAFSP 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.

CAFSP 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 an online format, as well as a video-based training for the food transportation industry.

• MGT332 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 FDA 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, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (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 online and instructor-led courses.

CAFSP has developed several online courses for food regulators focused on food processing safety. Our approach is to creatively integrate the subject matter content into an enhanced distance learning experience, rather than create online training that simply provides the course content for the participants to read or listen to with little participatory interaction. These online 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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