Charleston W.Va. — The WV Department of Agriculture (WVDA) is now offering full reimbursement to producers who have successfully completed the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP) audits. GAP/GHP audits are voluntary efforts that verify fruits and vegetables are being produced, packed, handled and stored as safely as possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards. Funding for reimbursement is being covered under the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) program.
“The goal of GAP & GHP audits is to verify producers are following recommendations set forth by United States Food and Drug Administration, as well as industry recognized food safety practices,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “This is a voluntary effort for producers who are ready to scale up their business.”
In addition, to GAP/GHP audits, the USDA is offering full coverage for producers interested in USDA Harmonized GAP and Harmonized GAP Plus+ audits. Harmonized GAP Assistance is a joint effort by USDA Risk Management Agency and USDA Agricultural Marketing Service to increase market access for fruit and vegetable producers by helping pay for buyer-required food safety certifications. These audits aim to verify fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled and stored in the safest manner possible to minimize risks of food safety hazards.
“We encourage producers to consider these audits as it’s an opportunity to diversify the type of markets available to their business while increasing the financial security of their farm,” Leonhardt said. “Producers should consider taking advantage of these programs sooner rather than later as our ability to reimburse these costs is dependent on federal funding.”
To apply for GHP/GAP Training, agriculture.wv.gov/divisions/marketinganddevelopment/Pages/Grant-and-Training-Opportunities.aspx.
For additional information, www.ams.usda.gov/publications/content/rma-ams-harmonized-gap-assistance-qa.
The West Virginia Department of Agriculture protects plant, animal and human health through a variety of scientific, regulatory and consumer protection programs. The Commissioner of Agriculture is one of six statewide elected officials who sits on the Board of Public Works.