The West Virginia Department of Agriculture is offering full reimbursement to fruit and vegetable producers who have completed its Good Handling Practices and Good Agricultural Practices programs.
The 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, according to state Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt.
“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,” Leonhardt said.
“This is a voluntary effort for producers who are ready to scale-up their business.”
Funding for reimbursement is being covered under the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program program.
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.
The 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.”