The Center for Produce Safety - 2024 Request for Proposals


The Center for Produce Safety (CPS)


2024 Research Priorities and Request for Preliminary Proposals


Objective: Research activities sponsored by the Center for Produce Safety (CPS) and partner entities are to be directed to answering critical research questions that fill the gaps in basic understanding in specific areas of food safety practices for fruit, vegetable and tree nut production, harvest and post-harvest handling. The objective is to provide the produce industry with practical, translatable research data that can be used at levels throughout the supply chain. 

General Research Guidance: Consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables is a key element in the health and nutrition of people worldwide. The variety of products and year-round availability has opened up many exciting new ways for consumers to enjoy fruits, nuts and vegetables as never before. But along with this trend, the produce industry has faced numerous incidents over the last decade in which outbreaks of food-borne illness have been traced to the consumption of fruits, nuts and vegetables. The produce industry has attempted to meet these food safety challenges with the development of commodity-specific food safety programs centered on Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) at the raw or commodity finished product level and fully integrated processing food safety approaches anchored by HACCP-based programs for packaged products. As food safety guidance documents and standards for an array of commodities have evolved to become more measurable, industry scientists have struggled with a deficit of specific scientific knowledge on which to base metrics.  

Research Priorities: 2024 CPS Research Priorities

Note: The Center for Produce Safety (CPS) is a 501(c)(3), U.S. tax-exempt, charitable organization focused exclusively on providing the produce industry and government with open access to the actionable information needed to continually enhance the safety of produce.   

Public Partners: Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) located at: California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA–SCBGP), Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACSSCBGP), Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA–SCBGP), and Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA – SCBGP). Additional funding sources may be announced during the review process. 


Projects should benefit the specialty crop industry and/or the public rather than a single organization, institution, individual or commercial product. Funds will not be awarded for projects that directly benefit or provide a profit to a single organization, institution or individual. 

The following CPS guidelines pertain to all project funds that may be distributed through this program: 

  • To be eligible for a grant, the project must solely enhance the competitiveness of U.S. or U.S. territory grown specialty crops in either domestic or foreign markets. Specialty crops are fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and horticulture and nursery crops (including floriculture). Lists of eligible specialty crops and ineligible commodities are provided on the USDA website.
  • Principal Investigator degree requirement – A person listed as the Principal Investigator on a pre-proposal must have a doctorate degree (Ph.D., D.Sc., or equivalent).     
  • Number of proposals that may be submitted – A person may be listed as a Principal Investigator on no more than two pre-proposals. A person may not be listed on more than three 2024 proposals as a PI or Co-PI. 

CPS awards are consistent and compliant with the USDA Guidance and Federal Cost Principles and SCBGP Cost Principles. It is the responsibility of the applicant to be consistent with these principles. Additional guidance documents are available at the CPS website. 

Funding Availability

Up to $3,000,000 USD

After the review of all proposals, awards will be assigned by CPS to one or more funding sources.  

Maximum Project Value

  • Research awards may not exceed $200,000 in total costs per year. Research project term may not exceed two years. 
  • Proof-of-concept projects are typically short-term studies with budgets of $15,000 to $30,000 and may not exceed $50,000 in total costs or one year in length.  

Indirect Costs

For this RFP, prepare proposal budgets using a rate of 8% of personnel costs (salary + benefits). 

If awarded, the funding source for an award is assigned by CPS, and CPS will request the budget summary and justification be revised to reflect the sponsor’s indirect cost rate restrictions.

Project Duration

  • January 1, 2025 through December 31, 2025 for one-year research projects and proof-of-concept projects.
  • January 1, 2025 through December 31, 2026 for two-year research projects.

Note: Project term may be less than 12 months for proof-of-concept and regular research projects. 

Special Notes

Proof of Concept Project

Please contact CPS at with questions about proof-of-concept awards.

A pre-proposal must be submitted for a proof-of-concept project. CPS encourages proposals in which the primary outcome of the objective is one of the outcomes listed below:

  1. To generate preliminary data to demonstrate proof of concept for novel or high-risk–high-reward produce safety solutions
    • Success criteria are heavily weighted to CPS anticipation of providing future funding, if outcomes are successful, and to attract leverage funding for the PI
  2. To generate foundational data and practical proof of efficacy for highly focused preventive control or corrective action protocols
    • Success criteria are dependent on a convincing expectation that outcomes are rapidly transferrable to practice or policy and not necessarily dependent on further CPS funding
  3. To generate preliminary data for a novel fundamental research concept that fits a long-term CPS priority
    • Success criteria are heavily weighted to CPS expectation that data outcomes will significantly increase the competitiveness for leveraged basic research funding to the PI   

These proof-of-concept (POC) proposals should address a question in the 2024 CPS Research Priorities. POC projects are typically short-term studies with budgets of $15,000 to $30,000 and may not exceed $50,000 in total costs or one year in length. For POC proposals that immediately or preferentially benefit a single commodity, industry sector, technology provider or service provider, it is typically expected that the beneficiary will commit at least 25% matching dollar funds and 25% valuation of in-kind support in the form of analytical equipment, consumable supplies or facility operational expenditures (farm, equipment, pilot or commercial system). Provisions for protection of sponsor CBI (Confidential Business Information) are possible and expected, but results of POC research are subject to the same requirements for transparency and public disclosure accessibility as standard CPS awards.  


If College-level review is required, your College will communicate its earlier internal deadlines.

Internal Deadline

Please submit your pre-proposal form, signed Guidance Receipt Acknowledgment form, and OR-5 Form to

External Deadline

Applicant to email pre-proposal and signed Guidance Receipt Acknowledgment to Proposals@centerforproducesafety.orgEmail must be received by CPS no later than noon (Pacific Standard Time) on Wednesday, November 8, 2023 – no exceptions to this deadline; paper copies will not be accepted. Proposals that arrive at 12:01 p.m. or later will not be accepted.

Those invited to submit full-proposal will be notified the week of December 18, 2023. Please notify Kristin Zimmermann ( if you are invited to apply. 

Internal Deadline

Those that have been invited to full-proposal must submit their complete application package to the Research Services Office ( 

External Deadline

Applicant needs to submit the full proposal by 12:00 noon (Pacific) on Thursday, February 1, 2024.  

How to Apply

2024 Guidance: Pre-Proposal

  1. Email Pre-proposal and signed Guidance Receipt Acknowledgment to Proposals@centerforproducesafety.orgEmail must be received by CPS no later than noon (Pacific Standard Time) on Wednesday, November 8, 2023 – no exceptions to this deadline; paper copies will not be accepted.
  2. Proposal submission – The email should have two separate attachments: the proposal and the 2024 Guidance Receipt Acknowledgment form (read carefully). Do not submit two proposals in the same email. 
  3. Use a sans serif font (Arial or Calibri preferred), no smaller than 11 point, and no less than 0.85 inch margins.
  4. References are included in the 3-page proposal limit and have the exact font requirement. Do not provide incomplete references. 
  5. Letters of commitment demonstrate your partners’ involvement and identify the specific contributions they will make to ensure the project’s success. If provided, the content should include:
    • A brief description of previous collaborations with the applicant;
    • The role the partner will play in the proposed project;
    • The amount of monetary support they will contribute (if applicable) and
    • The type and value of any in-kind support they will provide: staff time, facility space, supplies, equipment.

2024 Guidance: Full Proposal (for those invited)

Information For Co-applicants

If you need to meet a deadline set by the lead institution for this opportunity, please ensure that you provide the Office of Research with at least five days in advance of the lead institution’s deadline to review the application, or your proposed component of the project. Please be in touch with the Research Services Office ahead of the deadline if it looks like it will be difficult for you to submit all the required documentation on time (i.e. budget, proposal, OR-5 Form).

For Questions, please contact

Center For Produce Safety

Office of Research

Kristin Zimmermann, Senior Grants & Contracts Specialist
Research Services Office
519-824-4120 x56257

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