Grants to assist farmers with on-farm food safety efforts available
Fruit and vegetable farmers can now apply for two cost-share grants offered through the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to assist with the costs of water analysis and independent certification of an operation’s good agricultural practices.
“Food safety remains a top priority for growers and consumers, and these grants will help food safety efforts on the farm,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “Farmers can apply for both grants, which will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.”
This is the second year for the Water Analysis Cost Share grant program, which will reimburse growers up to $200 for certified laboratory analysis of irrigation and packing house wash water for the presence of generic E.coli bacteria. Growers can be reimbursed for one water test or multiple tests throughout the year.
For more information or to obtain an application for the Water Analysis Cost Share program, contact Kevin Hardison at (919) 733-7887, ext. 234, or e-mail at Kevin.Hardison@ncagr.gov.
The department also offers the Good Agricultural Practices Certification Assistance Program, which covers up to $600 for independent audits of a farm’s GAP or good handling practices.
To be eligible, growers must have a third-party audit in 2010 from an approved government agency or company that verifies GAP or GHP efforts, and the grower must submit an application to participate in the program prior to the audit. The audit can be for farm review, field harvest and field packing activities, packing house facility, storage and transportation, and traceback.
For more information or to obtain an application for the GAP Certification Assistance Program, contact Shirley Nicholson at (919) 733-7887, or e-mail at Shirley.Nicholson@ncagr.gov.
“GAP certification is becoming more and more important for marketing produce,” Troxler said. “Buyers are demanding assurances from growers that their produce is safe. It’s going to become more difficult for farmers to market their fruits and vegetables if they don’t have a program in place to make sure their produce is free of contamination.”
Funding for both NCDA&CS-managed grants comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.