Fresh Produce Good Agricultural Practices Workshop Series

— Written By Joanna Lelekacs

Fresh produce has been linked to 14,350 outbreak-related illnesses, 1,382 hospitalizations and 34 deaths in the US (CDC, 1996-2010). Contamination can happen anywhere along the production chain, during growing, harvesting, manufacturing, processing, packing, holding, or transportation. The impacts of these contamination events are devastating physically and financially to everyone involved! The key to reducing these outbreaks is learning how to prevent contamination.

As we near to the final Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Rule being published (to be issued October 31, 2015), buyers will expect growers to be following the law and producing their crops using the outlined GAPs. They may also require that you be GAP certified by a third party auditor.

Working in partnership, North Carolina State University, North Carolina Cooperative Extension, N.C. Cooperative County Centers, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems – NC Growing Together Project (CEFS/NCGT) will be offering a two-part workshop aimed at providing farmers with the tools to identify hazards on your farm; to prepare a food safety hazard assessment; and to create and implement a custom food safety plan that integrates your farm’s practices while meeting market requirements for GAP certification. From this workshop, participants will be able to proactively build-in contamination prevention strategies and reduce these potential market losses for their own farming practices. This training assumes participants have some basic knowledge of on-farm food safety.

Day 1

  • Identify on-farm food safety hazards (local farm visit part of day)
  • Strategize on minimizing and remediation of potential contamination
  • Accomplish of a food safety hazard assessment
  • Provide details on the FSMA proposed produce rule
  • Review of USDA GAP/GHP Audit questions and farm examples (Classroom)
  • Translate GAP Certification and third party audits details
  • Participants will receive a Certificate of educational attendance upon completion
  • Participants will receive two workbooks on resources for a food safety program

Day 2*

  • Guided assistance in writing a fresh produce safety plan
  • Participants will receive templates for standard operation procedures (SOPs), food safety plan, and documentation logs
  • Identification of common problems and strategic ways to reduce/ remediate hazards
  • Provide commodity-specific resources
  • Provide compliance tips for audit questions
  • Participants will be eligible to receive Cost Shares and one-on-one mock audit

*Completion of the Day 1 workshop is a prerequisite. An on-line course offered by N.C. Cooperative Extension offers participants the opportunity to review basic food safety knowledge to prepare for application within the workshop; please indicate your interest when registering for more information.

Basic computer knowledge is recommended in order to receive the maximum benefit from the 2nd day session. Participants are requested to bring their own computers or indicate this need to the instructors upon registration. Extra computers are available on a limited first come basis.

Taking this course will not result in GAPs Certification; rather attendees can leave these workshops with a well-developed working draft of their specific food safety plan, which becomes the framework for a GAP certification audit and can be used to demonstrate an individual farm’s risk-reduction program.

Workshop Locations Across the State:

Workshop Location: Yancey County Cooperative Extension Office, 30E Hwy 19E Bypass, Burnsville, NC 28714
Dates: Day 1 – October 13, Day 2 – October 20
Times: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Registration Deadline: October 6

Registration: $30 (check or money order ONLY made payable to Yancey County Cooperative Extension) and includes lunch both days. Space is limited (10-12 participants) and available on a first come, first served basis. For more information or to register, contact Tres Magner at 828-682-6218 ortres_magner@ncsu.edu by October 6, 2015.

Workshop Location: O. P. Owens Agriculture Center, 455 Caton Road, Lumberton
Dates: October 28 and November 5, 2015
Times: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Registration Deadline: October 21, 2015

Registration is $25 (check or money order ONLY made payable to Robeson County Cooperative Extension) and includes lunch both days. Space is limited (10-12 participants) and available on a first come, first served basis. For more information or to register, contact Mack Johnson, Extension Horticultural Agent, at 910-671-3276 or by E-mail at mack_johnson@ncsu.edu by October 21.

Workshop Location: Franklin County Cooperative Extension Center 103 S Bickett Blvd Louisburg, NC 27549
Dates: November 12 & 19, 2015
Time: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (both days)
Registration Deadline: November 5, 2015

Registration is $40 (check or money order ONLY made payable to Franklin County Cooperative Extension) and includes lunch both days. Space is limited (10-12 participants) and available on a first come, first served basis. For more information or to register, Martha Mobley, Agricultural Agent, by November 5th at (919) 496-3344, martha_mobley@ncsu.edu.

Workshop Location: Mountain Horticultural Crops & Research Center 455 Research Drive Mills River, NC 28759
Dates: December 16 & 17, 2015
Times: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Registration Deadline: December 9, 2015
Registration Information (TBA)

This material is based upon work that is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U. S. Department of Agriculture, under award number 2013-68004-20363.

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If you have any questions, please contact: