Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler sits down each week with the Southern Farm Network’s Rhonda Garrison to discuss “Today’s Topic.”
This week, Mike Davis fills in for Rhonda and talks with Commissioner Troxler about an action item that came out of the recent annual meeting of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture. At the meeting, agriculture commissioners and secretaries from across the country voted to support development of a whole-farm GAP certification program.
Increasingly, grocery chains and other produce buyers are requiring that farmers practice Good Agricultural Practices to minimize contamination in harvested produce. GAP certification is usually achieved through third-party audits of a grower’s farming, packing, storage and distribution practices.
The problem, according to Commissioner Troxler, is that GAP certification can be expensive because farmers might need certifications for several different commodities. And they might have to meet different requirements even if all the commodities are produced on the same farm. In the extreme, a farmer might have to meet different auditing requirements for different buyers, and each of those buyers might require an audit from different firms. It’s an unnecessary barrier to farmers’ ability to diversify their operations and expand their markets, Troxler says.
Whole-farm GAP certification would apply to commodities produced on the same farm. It would streamline the process while ensuring the food safety that the GAP program wants to achieve, Troxler says.
Click below to hear Commissioner Troxler and Mike talk about whole-farm GAP certification.[audio:http://info.ncagr.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Troxler_9-28.mp3|titles=Today’s Topic for Sept. 28]
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