Cost-share funding available to assist produce growers in paying for Good Agricultural Practices certification

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Cost-share funding is available to help produce growers pay for USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification.

“These funds are available for Missouri farmers who are applying for USDA GAP certification for the first time or for farms who are reapplying for USDA GAP certification,” said Londa Nwadike, state food safety specialist for the University of Missouri Extension and Kansas State Research and Extension.

These funds can only be used for USDA GAP audits conducted between April 1 and Sept. 1, 2019. While a number of other third parties carry out GAP audits, the cost-share funds can only be applied toward the cost of USDA GAP audits, Nwadike said.  “MU Extension will directly pay USDA up to half of the cost of the audit, with a maximum payment of $800, after the farmer has passed the audit and paid the remaining certification costs,” she said.

To receive USDA GAP certification, growers must develop a food safety plan and undergo an audit verifying that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled and stored according to practices that minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards.   “GAP certification is not a regulatory requirement, but it is required by many larger buyers, such as grocery stores, wholesalers and distributors,” Nwadike said. Growers must reapply annually to maintain certification.

The cost-share funding is from a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant through the Missouri Department of Agriculture.

For more information about the cost-share funding, contact Nwadike at [email protected] or 816-482-5860. Funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis until the available funding is used.

For information and resources about GAP audits and certification, go to ksre.k-state.edu/foodsafety/produce/usda-gap.

MU Extension can also provide technical assistance to farmers preparing for the GAP audit. In addition to Nwadike, you can also contact Patrick Byers, Webster County, [email protected]; Travis Harper, Henry County, [email protected]; Robert Balek, Jasper County, [email protected]; or Debi Kelly, Jefferson County, [email protected].