A new series of videos from the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association seeks to help growers navigate the food safety certification process, which association officials say can be a roadblock to sealing deals with retailers and foodservice operators.
The eight videos are designed to supplement the Pittsboro, N.C.-based association’s manual, “Good Agricultural Practices for Small diversified Farms: Tips and Strategies to Reduce Risk and Pass an Audit.”
“The aim of this project was to document real-world examples of how small, diversified farms could cost-effectively manage food safety risk, and meet the standards set in the USDA Good Agricultural Practices certification program,” according to the association website.
“The goal was to see whether it was possible for these types of farms to actually pass a GAP audit, without breaking the bank and without requiring them to change their crop production practices.”
The videos and manual are free and can be accessed at www.carolinafarmstewards.org.
Money from a U.S. Department of Agriculture specialty crop grant helped pay for the production of the videos, says association executive director Roland Reynolds in the introduction video. Specific topics covered in the other seven videos are the audit process, traceability, worker hygiene, water, animals, manure/composting and equipment and containers.
Tips in the audit process video include finding out what buyers require and how to pick the best time for an audit. For growers with multiple vegetable crops, for example, the video suggests timing an audit between harvests so more than one crop can be certified in one visit.
The audit video also explains the differences between food safety policies, records and documents to help growers and understand how to set up food safety programs.