Four workshops will help farmers learn about GAP Certification requirements

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  October 3, 2018

Contact: Michelle Olgers, Marketing & Communications Dept., 804-524-6964, molgers@vsu.edu

VSU Small Farm Outreach Program Workshops To Help Farmers Understand USDA GAP Certification Requirements

The Small Farm Outreach Program (SFOP) is holding workshops to introduce farmers to GAP certification requirements at four locations in Central and Southeastern Virginia. Three workshops will be held in October and one in November.

The workshops are as follows: October 10 at the GW Carver Agricultural Center in Rapidan; October 24 at the VSU Randolph Farm in Petersburg; October 30 at the Southern Virginia Food Hub in South Hill; and November 7 at the Wedgewood Golf Center in Halifax. All workshops will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

These workshops will provide instruction and guidance specific to the United States Department of Agriculture’s USDA Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices (GAP & GHP) Audit. Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) is a voluntary on-farm audit that verifies that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled and stored as safely as possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards. Passing an audit is required to become GAP certified. In the workshops participants will learn about the GAP audit process and what type of food safety platform is right for their operation.

Each workshop will also include information on the Harmonized GAP Audit Program, a third-party audit administered by USDA. Harmonized GAP aligns the USDA Harmonized Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Audit Program with the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act’s (FSMA’s) Produce Safety Rule requirements. 

Foodborne illness is increasing in the U.S., and has sparked consumer demand for increased food safety. Although not all risks can be eliminated, growers and food handlers can reduce the risk of contamination by implementing many food safety practices along the food supply chain from the farm to market to reduce the risk of contamination. These practices relate to water quality; soil amendments; management of wildlife, pests and livestock; worker health and hygiene; equipment and facilities; general handling; and traceability of the product. 

The workshops are free and open to the public. Space is limited, so register early. To register, visit www.ext.vsu.edu/calendar, click on the event and then click on the registration link. 

If you need further information or are a person with a disability and desire any assistive devices, services or other accommodations to participate in this activity, please contact the Small Farm Outreach Program office by email at smallfarm@vsu.eduor call (804) 524-3292 / TDD (800) 828-1120 (TDD) during business hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. to discuss accommodations no later than five days prior to the event.

The Small Farm Outreach Program, which is part of Cooperative Extension at Virginia State University, aims to encourage and assist limited-resource, socially disadvantaged and military veteran farmers and ranchers to own, maintain and operate farms and ranches independently, to participate in agricultural programs and improve their overall farm management skills. The SFOP provides outreach and assistance activities in production management, financial management, marketing, available USDA farm programs and other areas to increase farm profitability and promote sustainability. Currently, the program provides educational programming in approximately 64 Virginia counties, which have the highest concentrations of limited-resource, socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers in the state. For more information, visit The SFOP website.

Extension is a joint program of Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state and local governments. Virginia Cooperative Extension programs and employment are open to all, regardless of age, color, disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, or any other basis protected by law. An equal opportunity/ affirmative action employer. Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

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