RENO, Nev. – University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and the Nevada Department of Agriculture will offer a Good Agricultural Practices training, focusing on risk management in fruit and vegetable production 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Nov. 20. The training will be held at the Nevada Department of Agriculture, 405 S. 21st St. in Sparks. Participants will learn principles of good agricultural and handling practices related to reducing risk from microbial food hazards and fundamental components of food safety as part of a management plan.
“This training teaches how to ensure fresh horticultural products are safer for consumers and how to reduce risk to the farm business associated with legal action if a contaminated product were to enter the marketing channel,” White Pine County Extension Educator Seth Urbanowitz said. “It will allow fruit and vegetable producers to sell to a larger group of people, and it’s great for public health officials, schools, farmers market managers and agriculture professionals.”
After the training, participants are encouraged to attend one of two free mock audits: 8 a.m. – noon Friday, Nov. 21 at the High Desert Farming Initiative, 920 Valley Road in Reno, or 10 a.m. – noon Saturday, Nov. 22 at Lattin Farms, 1955 McLean Road in Fallon.
“Food safety is important in providing the consumer high-quality safe food, mitigating risk and gaining market access,” Urbanowitz said.
According to Urbanowitz, producers should have a food-safety plan for their farms so that they can think more comprehensively about food safety and ultimately prepare for a Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) /Good Handling Practices (GHPs) audit. After attending the training, participants may go through the audit process to be certified one year under the GAP/GHP certification, as well as apply for cost-share funding for the cost of the audit.
With more schools and restaurants trying to buy locally produced fruits and vegetables, producers need some type of safety certification to meet the terms of the contracts with these entities. Direct-market farmers have an opportunity to be certified and even have the cost of certification reduced through the cost-share program, which will cover 75 percent of all costs associated with a successful USDA GHP/GAP audit, up to a maximum of $750. To qualify for disbursement, applicants must have successfully completed an approved USDA audit between June 1, 2013 and July 30, 2015.
More than 80 producers have been trained since Urbanowitz began offering Good Agricultural Practices trainings in the fall of 2013. The GAPs training is sponsored by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Farm to School Grant Program.
Funding for the mock audits was provided by the Washington State University Western Extension Risk Management Education Center and the United States Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
For more information or to register for the Good Agricultural Practices training, contact Urbanowitz at [email protected] or 775-293-6598. Persons in need of special accommodations or assistance should call at least three days prior to the scheduled event.