Originally posted on: smadc.com
If you are a farmer growing fruits and vegetables in the [Southern Maryland] region, chances are you’ve heard about USDA GroupGap, an innovative solution to help farmers and buyers meet the increasing consumer demand for local food while maintaining strong food safety standards.
I was curious about it, so I did some research. Here is a quick rundown, to help you decide if it is right for you.
Group GAP makes the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) process for food safety more accessible to small and medium size farmers by allowing multiple growers to work together to obtain a single certification (as a group) and a cost-effective means to adhere to ongoing GAP requirements from buyers. Now is the time to learn about the certification, as it will be available for fruit and vegetables growers in the U.S. April 3, 2016. Most may follow Maryland GAP. GroupGAP is intended to complement the Maryland version.
In a nutshell, to qualify, a group of farmers must come together to sign up. A Group Coordinator is needed to create standard operating procedures (SOPs), a quality management system (first year a bit rigorous), keep grower members in compliance, serve as a point of contact with USDA, and ensure the groups audit readiness… Read full article