U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Foundation Launch New Toolkit to Increase Market Access for Underserved Specialty Crop Farmers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 22, 2022
ARLINGTON, Va.— The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Foundation have created a Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) grower toolkit and corresponding website to increase underserved farmers’ access to new and existing markets and USDA food safety certification programs. This initiative was created under an AMS cooperative agreement with the NASDA Foundation.
The GAP toolkit includes new and user-friendly educational resources with an emphasis on GroupGAP, a USDA farm food safety program that provides the specialty crop industry opportunities to supply and buy fruits, vegetables, and related products certified as using Good Agricultural Practices. The website and toolkit detail the specifics of all GAP programs, their benefits, expected costs, misconceptions, the audit process, and relevant resources.
“By allowing farmers, food hubs, and marketing organizations of all sizes to band together and pool resources to achieve USDA Good Agricultural Practices certification, GroupGAP is helping more farmers minimize food safety hazard risks and supply fresh, local, and safe produce to markets,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “At the same time, GroupGAP also provides buyers and consumers alike with more purchasing options.”
“We are proud to have created this one-of-a-kind toolkit that will remove barriers to USDA Good Agricultural Practices Programs by providing a guide of all GAP programs that allow producers to determine which process is right for them,” NASDA CEO Ted McKinney said. “The NASDA Foundation team traveled the nation asking producers what they need to be successful in the GroupGAP process and we have used those conversations to create these resources.”
In partnership with AMS and NASDA Foundation, state departments of agriculture, cooperative extension agencies, and non-government organizations piloted the toolkit in Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, New York, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
These resources are now fully accessible online and in PDF form for printing and sharing in future trainings. A recorded train-the-trainer is available for viewing so that state departments of agriculture, cooperative extension and non-governmental organizations can provide the new material to growers and other stakeholders.
The NASDA Foundation GAP toolkit is located at https://www.nasda.org/gap-overview/
The NASDA Foundation is the only educational and research organization that directly serves the nation’s state departments of agriculture. The NASDA Foundation’s mission is to enhance American food and agricultural communities through education, outreach and research. The NASDA Foundation works with states to nourish people and communities while serving as the stewards of the environment and public trust. To learn more about the NASDA Foundation, please visit nasda.org/nasda-foundation/.
The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) administers programs that create domestic and international marketing opportunities for U.S. producers of food, fiber, and specialty crops. AMS also provides the agriculture industry with valuable services to ensure the quality and availability of wholesome food for consumers across the country and around the world.