USDA to Expand Group Food Safety Certification for Small Growers

Farms have a lot of food safety certifications they need to obtain before they can begin selling their produce in certain markets. But, these certifications can be very expensive, and not all farmers can afford this. This is problematic because without the certification it becomes increasingly difficult to earn more money, and without more money, they will not be able to afford the certifications. Luckily, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is here to help. More and more retailers expect and require farmers to have Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification. But, for small to mid-sized farmers, these certifications are not easy to get and are very expensive. In order to combat this problem for small to mid-sized farmers, AMS tested a program for growers, cooperatives and food hubs to work together to get a group certifications.


Farmers who want to sell their produce in certain markets, such as big-box stores, have to get certain food safety certifications, but not everyone can afford to scale up. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is trying to help.


Photo Credit: Food Safety News

An increasing number of retailers require their suppliers to have Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification, which verifies that the farm follows industry-recognized food safety practices and recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. They focus on the best practices for producing, packing, handling and storing fruits and vegetables in the safest manner possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards.

For small and mid-sized farmers, getting GAP-certified can be difficult and expensive, so AMS tested a program that allowed growers, food hubs and cooperatives to work together to obtain group certification while sharing the cost of audits.

Following the success of the pilot program conducted with five groups, USDA has announced that it’s planning toexpand its GroupGAP pilot into a full program.

AMS will share details about the GroupGAP program at the Oct. 23-25 Produce Marketing Association (PMA) Fresh Summit meeting in Atlanta.

Read the full article here.


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