New good agricultural practices introduced by the California Avocado Commission are being embraced by growers, with more than 300 having participated in seminars in the month of December alone.

To keep the momentum going in 2013, the commission’s board authorized the extension of a 2012 rebate incentive of up to $300 per audit toward actual grower audit costs. The rebate is available on a first-come, first-serve basis while funds are available.

The commission’s director of issues management Ken Melban said in a news release he believes the best way to deal with a food safety crisis is to not have one. Even though avocados are considered a low-risk commodity, Melban said there is no such thing as “no risk.”

California Avocado Commission offers GAP cashA new GAP manual and recommended GAP certification process introduced by the commission in 2011 resulted in more than 20% of California avocado acreage being GAP certified within a year, the release said. Melban said one key to the successful certifications was step-by-step instructions provided in the commission’s seminars.

The commission’s GAP manual and other materials are available in English and Spanish. The other materials include a self-assessment guide to help growers get ready for certification audits.

The GAP manual includes information about water use, worker hygiene, field sanitation, soil amendments and traceability. There is also a good harvesting practices section and samples of logs to help growers with recordkeeping requirements.