Originally posted on: smadc.com

If you are a farmer growgroupgap2ing 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.

I recently watched an informative webinar by USDA on the GroupGAP update. Listen to the webinar here. (If you can’t watch the webinar, check out the fact sheet.)

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