As a result, many state inspectors have obtained the necessary USDA authorizations.
Wal-Mart officials have indicated they will accept a harmonized audit if it meets GFSI standards, he said.
For the single audit plan to be implemented, Brown said Florida state ag inspectors would have to be trained and certified to meet GFSI requirements.
“We’ve been working with the state of Florida, and they’re preparing themselves to be able to provide audits that will, to my knowledge, meet all of the demands of the customer base that are out there with a single audit,” he said.
A new sliding fee structure will reflect various levels, Brown said, allowing grower and packers to choose based on customer requirements.
“It’s been a long time coming and it will probably be a bit buggy for the first cycle of this process, but it’s achievable,” he said.
Wes Roan, food safety quality control manager for Immokalee, Fla.-based Lipman, praised the efforts.
“Everyone would love to have one audit, and I hope that can be a reality,” Roan said.
But he said he had concerns whether some buyers would become picky about the entity conducting the audit.