CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Department of Agriculture is now offering full reimbursement to producers who have successfully completed the Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices audits.

GAP/GHP 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. Funding for reimbursement is being covered under the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

“The goal of GAP and 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,” Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt said. “This is a voluntary effort for producers who are ready to scale up their business.” 

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. 

These 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.” 

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