North Carolina Farm to School

Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, “Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP) are voluntary audits that verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored as safely as possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards.”

GAP & GHP audits may be required by a distributor, wholesaler, school nutrition program or other buyer of fresh produce.  These audits are voluntary and conducted at the request of the farmer.  For more information see the resources below.

USDA GAP and GHP – Information on program updates and audit services.

NCDA&CS Cooperative Grading Service – The Grading Service can conduct a USDA GAP audit at the request of farmers.

NCDA&CS GAP Cost Share Assistance

National Good Agricultural Practices Program – Cornell CALS – Growers, packers, farm workers, teachers and others can find information about the GAPs program.  Resources include an online course, trainings, educational materials including high school curriculum.

NC Cooperative Extension GAPS information – Information on GAPs principles and creating food safety plans for farms.

Harmonized GAP – Prior to the creation of Harmonized GAP, farmers often had to complete multiple audits to meet requests of buyers.  The goal of harmonized GAP is the creation of one audit, that if performed by a credited third party, is acceptable to all buyers.

GroupGAP Food Safety Program – GroupGAP is a food safety certification program designed for small and mid-size farmers.  It allows farmers, food hubs other groups to work together to get GAP certified as a group.  The group shares in the cost of certification.

Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) Resources:

GAP manual and videos – The goal of this manual and video series is to share tips and strategies learned from small, diversified farms as they went through the process of obtaining GAP certification.

CFSA’s Good Agricultural Practices for Small Diversified Farms – Tips and Strategies to Reduce Risk and Pass an Audit