1. What is the benefit of becoming GAP certified?
There are several benefits of becoming GAP certified. Food safety is an ever-growing concern, and with it, several buyers are requiring GAP certification before they will consider doing business. If you were to become GAP certified, this opens new market opportunities for your operation. Not only will you have access to new markets, you will also be reducing the risk of foodborne illnesses, and therefore, consumer trust will increase. If you are taking extra steps in your daily process to put on-farm food safety at the forefront, you are demonstrating that you care about the quality of your produce.
2. Is GAP certification required?
That depends! You need to have an open discussion with potential markets to determine if they require GAP certification. While GAP certification is not required by law like FSMA Produce Safety Rule, some buyers can require their growers to have GAP certification. Make sure you are aware of what potential markets require to determine what best suits your operation’s needs.
3. What if I do not have a market already lined up? Is there benefit of becoming GAP certified then?
Absolutely! The USDA GAP website provides a comprehensive, living list of GAP certified operations, and buyers are looking for new opportunities all the time.
4. How long does a GAP certification last?
A GAP certification lasts for one year. It is a recurring audit, but with the help of the Good Agricultural Practices Program Coordinator, on-farm food safety will become second nature, so each year will become easier.
5. How much does the GAP audit cost?
The audit fee increased in October of 2022 from $115 per hour to $132 per hour. This fee includes all travel time, review of all documentation, and the time of the actual audit. The South Carolina Department of Agriculture is determined to assist with the cost of audit fees in hopes of encouraging 1st time and repeat audits by offering a cost share reimbursement of 90%. Check out the GAP Audit Reimbursement Cost Share Application to see all details.