NEW ORLEANS — PrimusLabs has a new program for local growers that it believes will help small growers highlight their commitment to food safety and help buyers find reliable local suppliers.

Called the Local Farmer Food Safety Initiative, the program was developed by PrimusLabs and powered by California-based data management company Azzule Systems, said Debra Garrison, director of business development for PrimusLabs, Santa Maria, Calif.

“The really important piece in all of this is for the buyers,” she said.

Retailers can sign up with the program as a procurer and stipulate what steps growers must complete before they are eligible to supply buyers.

The mobile app allows buyers to search by commodity, farm or distance to find suppliers, she said.

The program, available to growers for $150 per year, is designed to be more affordable for very small local growers who may not be able to initially afford a $1,500 third-party audit retailers sometimes demand.

The program helps local growers (those who market produce within a 275-mile radius of their operation) connect with university extension resources, state departments of agriculture and other farm organizations to increase access to food safety education, Garrison said.

So far, PrimusLabs has worked with university and state department of agriculture officials in nine states and asked them to help train growers in the program.

The five-step program helps local growers complete food safety implementation, Garrison said.

The steps are:

  • attend a local farmer food safety training course;
  • develop a personalized food safety plan manual;
  • conduct a self assessment;
  • complete a personalized food safety plan verification; and
  • complete a third-party certified audit.

Growers will have the ability to document their progress on the Local Farmer website and Progress Tracker mobile application, according to a release.

Growers don’t have to use a PrimusLabs audit to complete the fifth step in the program, Garrison said.