FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 14, 2021
ARLINGTON, VA — The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Foundation is pleased to announce a new cooperative agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to create awareness and utilization of its Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) programs among socially disadvantaged and underserved growers. Specifically, through the new cooperative agreement, NASDA Foundation will develop and pilot strategy to remove barriers to USDA GroupGAP program participation.
“We are thrilled to be working with USDA-AMS to promote participation in USDA GAP Programs,” NASDA Foundation Executive Director Elizabeth Rowland said. “The work completed through this cooperative agreement will prove valuable to small farmers and growers by providing options to compete in larger local markets.” GAP audits verify adherence to the recommendations made in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables and industry recognized food safety practices covering over 90 commodities.
GAP is a voluntary audit that verifies that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled and stored to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards. Together with USDA-AMS, NASDA Foundation aims to support socially disadvantaged and underserved farmers by ensuring all are aware of and able to access USDA GAP Programs. The Group GAP program helps small farmers compete in the same markets as larger growers by ensuring their farms meet USDA auditing requirements in advance of inspections. According to the 2017 Agriculture Census report, there are over 1 million producers that categorized as socially disadvantaged.
“NASDA Foundation supports all producers and recognizes the need to bring equity and diversity to local food markets,” Elizabeth Rowland said. “Engaging with socially disadvantaged producers and identifying barriers preventing the utilization of GAP Programs will be beneficial to many growers across the nation.”
The agreement will identify growers who will benefit the most from participating in the USDA GAP Program. The NASDA Foundation will do this by working with state departments of agriculture. The agreement is for one year.
The NASDA Foundation is the only educational and research organization that directly serves the nation’s state departments of agriculture. NASDA Foundation’s mission is to advance agriculture to shape a changing world. The NASDA Foundation works with states to connect farmers to new markets, inspire change across the supply chain, and preserve the environment, while maintaining agricultural viability. To learn more about NASDA Foundation, please visit http://www.nasda.foundation.