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Partnership Helps Small Farmers in SC Achieve Key Food Safety Certification

South Carolina Department of Agriculture
Hugh E. Weathers, Commissioner

Media Contacts: Eva Moore, SCDA Communications Director, 803-734-2196,

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 15, 2023

Partnership Helps Small Farmers in SC Achieve Key Food Safety Certification
With Duke Energy Donation, Program is ‘Closing the GAP’ for Farmers

COLUMBIA – A new partnership is helping more South Carolina farmers show buyers their commitment to food safety.

The South Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Agribusiness Center for Research and Entrepreneurship (ACRE) is helping South Carolina farmers achieve Good Agricultural Practices certification thanks to a $100,000 grant from Duke Energy.

Good Agricultural Practices, or GAP, is a voluntary federal audit showing that a farm is taking significant steps to reduce the risk of foodborne illness associated with fresh fruits and vegetables. Some buyers, including some grocery chains and school districts, will only purchase from GAP-certified farms. Thus, GAP certification can be crucial for farms looking to scale up their operations and find sustainable markets for their produce.

ACRE is partnering with the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, the South Carolina Black Farmers Coalition, Pick 42 Foundation, and Bonita Global LLC to help growers prepare for a GAP audit and cover the costs of certification. The program is targeting small, minority-owned farms in South Carolina.

“We know many small South Carolina farms are already using excellent food safety practices, and GAP certification is a stamp of approval so buyers know it, too,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers. “I thank all our partners in this effort for their commitment to sustaining South Carolina agriculture.”

“GAP certification means opportunity and access for small, socially disadvantaged farms,” said Larry Harris, a produce grower who owns Harris Farms LLC in Sumter County. Harris has also worked to bring other farmers in to the program.

“Agribusiness is South Carolina’s top industry, and Duke Energy is proud to power thousands of family and commercial farms and related businesses,” said Mike Callahan, Duke Energy’s South Carolina president. “We are excited to invest in resources like the GAP certification program that will help farmers grow their business and support our agricultural economy.”

Half of Duke Energy’s generous contribution is being used for the GAP assistance program, while ACRE is using the other $50,000 for small business development grants to agricultural producers in the region served by Duke Energy.

To learn more about ACRE, visit


















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