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Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) is a voluntary audit that verifies that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled and stored as safely as possible to minimize risk of microbial food safety hazards. Following this training, producers will be able to implement best practices as it relates to worker health and hygiene as well as field sanitation and hygiene that would minimize risk of microbial food safety hazards.


A member of the Southern Farmers Collaborative Group approached the Dougherty County Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources County Extension Agent about hosting a GAP Audit training so that members of the group would be able to train others like a Train-the-Trainer program. Most farmers in this group grow some type of produce and would benefit greatly from learning what to expect when they have their farm audited. Therefore, the Good Agricultural Practice Training Program would equip growers with the information necessary to fulfill all requirements of a USDA GAP audit process. However, little is known about whether such a training can positively influence knowledge levels of farmers to preform well during an audit.


The Dougherty County Cooperative Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources County Extension Agent reached out to Fort Valley Extension Agriculture Agent housed in Dougherty County to co-sponsor such a program. Both agents were able to secure speakers from Produce Food Safety Services and Simmons, Andrews & Associates, LLC. to deliver the Demystifying the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Audit training program which was held at Fort Valley State University. The first part of the training was spent going over what an audit day would look like, what an audit is and isn’t, and helpful hints. The second part of the training was spent on the demonstration farm at Fort Valley State University. Topics for this portion of the training included implementation of FVSU Food Safety Manual, creation of Records of Procedures, writing of standard operation procedures, creation of record keeping sheets, working with FVSU through self-auditing procedures and arranging for the actual audit.


There were twenty producers in attendance for this half-day training. Each producer was given a pre-test and a post-test. Most of the producers had none to moderate knowledge and understanding of a USDA GAP Audit prior to this training. After the training, all the producers had good to excellent knowledge and understanding of the USDA GAP audit. When asked “How prepared do you feel to undergo a 3rd party food safety audit?”, most responded not prepared at all in the beginning, to somewhat prepared or very prepared by the end of the training. Because of this program some producers plan to adopt handwashing stations, better recordkeeping and GAP practices on their farm, write down everything, plan on creating documents to be GAP ready, and some plan to use all of the practices shared. One producer writes,” I did not have specific expectations, but was happy with what I received.” Another writes, “it was clear even to a new farmer like myself. I thought it was much more complicated, and I am glad I came to the training.” Others thought that the training exceeded their expectations, was very good and gave them more confidence, great information that is kept simple and direct, explained very well with hands on experience. We will send out a follow-up survey eight weeks after the training day. The intent of the survey is to see if any of the information was used. Have they done anything to update their farm to coincide with the practices? Have they scheduled an audit, or do they plan to schedule one, in the coming months or years?

State Issue

Food Safety & Quality


  • Year: 2020
  • Geographic Scope: Multi-County
  • County: Peach
  • Location: College Station, Athens
  • Program Areas:
    • Agriculture & Natural Resources


  • Morgan, James L.


CAES Collaborator(s)

  • Grace, Charlie
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