Today marks the beginning of a new federal GAP Assistance program for USA growers.  Starting January 2nd, $3.7 million of assistance will be provided to cover costs of undergoing voluntary U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Harmonized Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) audits.  As recognized in the program announcement, a food safety audit is an important aspect of any farm marketing plan.  As well as enhancing consumer safety, audits expand the number of market options available to the farm.

“These audits help producers meet Produce Safety Rule standards and will also improve their ability to sell into markets that expect growers to demonstrate that they have incorporated a culture of food safety into their operations,” said USDA Marketing and Regulatory Program Undersecretary Greg Ibach.  “We are excited to be able to support producers pursuing these audits in the 2019 season.”

The funding opportunity will provide credits for up to 100% of the audit fees for the Harmonized GAP audit and the Harmonized GAP Plus+, including auditor travel time and state or federal administrative expenses.

Funding will be provided solely to produce growers and cannot be used by owners of storage/transportation facilities, cross dock facilities, wholesale distribution centers, or commercial packing/repacking operations.  However, producer-owned ventures such as producer cooperatives and food hubs, where the producers are the owners of the entity, are exceptions and will be eligible to receive this assistance.

The program will assist growers up until 2019 or longer, depending on availability of funds.

The states affected include: