The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and the Nevada Department of Agriculture will host the Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Training for food safety Jan. 30 and 31. The training will focus on on-farm food-safety practices related to fruit and vegetable production. Participants will learn principles of good agricultural and handling practices.
“This comprehensive training teaches how to ensure fresh horticultural products are safer for consumers and how to reduce risk to the farm business associated with legal action if a contaminated product were to enter the marketing channel,” White Pine County Extension Educator Seth Urbanowitz said. “It will allow fruit and vegetable producers to sell to a larger group of people, and it’s great for public health officials, schools, farmers’ market managers and agriculture professionals.”
The two-day program, sponsored by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Farm-to-School Grant Program, will run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days, with registration starting at 8:20 a.m. Jan. 30. Training sessions began last fall, and Urbanowitz has trained between 40 and 50 people in good agricultural practices.
“Food safety is important in providing the consumer high-quality, safe food, mitigating risk and gaining market access,” Urbanowitz said.
According to Urbanowitz, producers should have a food-safety plan for their farms so that they can think more comprehensively about food safety and ultimately prepare for a 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 can cost more than $1,000 when offered elsewhere,” Urbanowitz said.
Good Agricultural Practices will be hosted at the Nevada Department of Agriculture, 405 S. 21st Street in Sparks, Nev. Pre-registration is required and costs $20. Applications to sign up for the training are accepted and approved by the Nevada Department of Agriculture on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information or to register, contact the White Pine County Cooperative Extension office at 775-293-6599 or email Urbanowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.