Alabama specialty crop farmers can apply for a cost-share program through the Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industries (ADAI) that helps farmers offset the cost of training to improve food-handling safety.
The cost-share program will reimburse farmers who successfully pass a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP) certification program. Reimbursements cover 75 percent of the program cost, up to $500 per year.
“We are always looking for ways to help our state’s producers grow and expand,” said Commissioner John McMillan. “GAP/GHP certification is required by most schools, grocers and wholesalers. By providing financial assistance, we are helping our farmers reach those markets.”
GAP and GHP audits are voluntary inspections that evaluate how fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled and stored. The goal is to ensure food is produced in the safest manner possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards.
Funds for this program are provided through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which awarded $25,000 for Alabama producers. Funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, until the funds are depleted, according to ADAI officials.