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May 20, 2013
By Kayla Johnson
The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and the Nevada Department of Agriculture will be hosting the Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Training for food safety June 5-7 at the Nevada Department of Agriculture in Sparks. The free, three-day program, sponsored by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Farm-to-School Grant Program, will focus on on-farm food-safety practices related to fruit and vegetable production. Participants will learn principles of good agricultural and handling practices.
Seth Urbanowitz, White Pine County Extension educator, said this training differs from other trainings offered for producers elsewhere.
"It is a comprehensive food-safety training that prepares fruit and vegetable growers to identify on-farm food-safety hazards, implement a food-safety plan and engage consumers, buyers and distributors in a discussion about safe food," Urbanowitz said. "Food safety is important in providing the consumer high-quality, safe food, mitigating risk and gaining market access."
According to Urbanowitz, it is important for producers to have a food-safety plan for their farms so that they can think more comprehensively about food safety and ultimately prepare for a "GAP/GHP," or Good Agricultural Practices/Good Handling Practices, audit. After attending the training, participants can go through the audit process to be certified one year under the GHP/GAP certification, as well as apply for cost-share funding for the cost of the audit.
With more and more schools and restaurants trying to buy locally produced fruits and vegetables, producers need some type of safety certification to meet the terms of their contracts. Direct-market farmers have an opportunity to be certified and even have the cost of certification reduced through the cost-share program.
Ashley Jeppson, Nevada Department of Agriculture Farm-to-School grant coordinator, encourages producers to take advantage of the certification program.
"The demand for GAPs is on the rise, and food safety begins on the farm," Jeppson said. "The certification will help producers now and in the future adapt to changes in food safety and better prepare them to reduce food-safety risks."
Reimbursements under the cost-share program will cover 75 percent of all costs associated with a successful USDA GHP/GAP audit, up to a maximum of $750. To qualify for disbursement, applicants must have successfully completed an approved USDA audit on or between June 1, 2013 and July 30, 2015.
The good agricultural practices training being offered free June 5-7 by Cooperative Extension and the Department of Agriculture, with USDA sponsorship, can cost more than $1,000 when offered elsewhere, Urbanowitz said. Applications to sign up for the training are accepted and approved by the Nevada Department of Agriculture on a first-come, first-served basis. The training will run 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day and will be held at the Department of Agriculture in Sparks, 405 S. 21st St.
For more information, contact the White Pine County Cooperative Extension office at 775-293-6599 or email Urbanowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.