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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Harmonized Good Agricultural Practices Plus+ audit program for specialty crops is now accepted as technically equivalent by the Global Food Safety Initiative.

“Technical equivalence means producers utilizing this one-stop USDA audit also meet other U.S. and international regulatory and market requirements,” Greg Ibach, USDA’s under secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, said in a news release.

“This important international recognition cuts down on paperwork, saves money and time, and ultimately grows markets for American farmers.”

USDA audits assure buyers that producers have met required food safety standards and marketing practices, according to the release.

Since the program started in 2012, the agency has certified more than 5,300 producers to the Harmonized GAP Standard.
According to the release, GFSI recognition means producers meet standards required by many large food distributors.
The USDA said the GFSI certification will help the industry sell in international markets, where GFSI certification is often required.

The Harmonized GAP Plus+ now fulfills the technical requirements of GFSI, the Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule, the industry-driven Produce GAP Harmonization Initiative, and industry best practices in the U.S.

The release said the USDA is the first government entity to achieve recognition under GFSI’s new technical equivalence.