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New water testing reimbursement mini-grant from MDA

Annalisa Hultberg, Extension Educator, food safety

Testing your farms water is one of the most important ways you can reduce risk of foodborne illness on your farm. Human pathogens, such as Salmonella or pathogenic E. coli, can be present in water used in the water you use for irrigation and postharvest uses like handwashing and rinsing vegetables, and can make people sick if ingested.  Testing your water annually for bacteria is an important way to protect your customers from potential illness associated with contaminated water.

To learn more about the process of gathering a water sample and to find labs in your area that can conduct the tests, see this factsheet and this recent blog post

Funds are still available!

New Grant Funding Available: Water Testing for Generic E. coli from MN Department of Agriculture 

Did you purchase water testing for generic E. coli between September 30, 2017 and December 31, 2020? If so, you may be eligible for reimbursement of your expenses, up to $400, under the new Produce Safety Water Testing for Generic E. coli Mini-Grant pilot program.

Applications are available on the MDA website and will be accepted through February 26, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. Additional information about the eligibility criteria is included as a part of the application.

A webinar about the program was hosted on Jan 21st and is available here

Note: This is a pilot project, and a future, full-scale mini-grant program will provide financial support for water testing and on-farm food safety improvements, for expenses dating after September 30, 2020. Future programs will cover expenses related to other food safety infrastructure improvements like totes, bins, cleaning materials and other items. More information will be available following the pilot program.

This program reimburses one hundred percent (100%) of a farm's generic E. coli water testing, up to $400 per farm. 

Eligible Applicants

Applicants must:

  • Be a Minnesota produce farmer that sells produce covered by the Produce Safety Rule (referred to as "covered produce").

    Covered produce includes any produce crop that is NOT among the 34 following items: Asparagus; beans(black, great Northern, kidney, lima, navy, pinto); beets, garden (roots and tops); beets, sugar; cashews; cherries, sour; chickpeas; cocoa beans; coffee beans; collards; corn, sweet; cranberries; dates; dill (seeds and weed); eggplants; figs; ginger; hazelnuts; horseradish; lentils; okra; peanuts; pecans; peppermint; potatoes; pumpkins; squash, winter; sweet potatoes; and water chestnuts.

  • Have a minimum average of $5,000 in sales of covered produce annually.

  • Have purchased water testing for generic E. coli between September 30, 2017, and December 31, 2020.

  • Have documented proof of purchase for their water testing and submit copies of this documentation with the grant application. Examples of this documentation include detailed receipts or invoices showing the date, amount paid, and testing completed.
For questions, please contact the Produce Safety Program via email at or call 651-539-3641. 

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