MISSOURI — Crop producers are always looking for new ways to attract potential customers to sell their products.

One way that could help bring new business is by obtaining a United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification.

KMZU’s Dan Watson talked with Londa Nwadike, the State Extension Food Safety Specialist for the University of Missouri and Kansas State University, to find out more about the GAP certification, what the benefits are to farmers and how often required audits must be performed in order to maintain the certification.

Click below to listen to their conversation, which aired

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By obtaining or continuing a GAP certification, producers have proof that their operation processes, handles and stores food in a safe and sanitary manner.

According to Nwadike, some buyers may ask for a producer to be GAP certified before they do any business.

“Sometimes buyers will ask farmers to be GAP certified. . . If they want to sell to maybe a grocery store or wholesaler, those buyers might ask them to be GAP certified. So it just provides more market access for farmers.”

To recieve a certification, a producer must  contact the USDA to schedule an audit of their operation.

“They need to apply to get the certification or to get an auditor to come to their farm,” Nwadike said, “the auditor would come to their farm and then look at their practices and look at what things they’re doing to make sure they’re using good food safety practices.”

Audits are required to be conducted once per year should a producer choose to renew their certification.

Before the auditor can visit an operation, a producer must send them a food safety plan ahead of the audit.

“The food safety plan would entail just their records,” Nwadike explained, “. . .how they’re going to make sure that they’re doing the food safety practices properly.”

To learn more about the GAP certification, visit the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service’s website or email Londa Nwadike at [email protected] or call 913-307-7391.