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Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)

In October 1998 the U.S Department of Agriculture and the U.S Food & Drug Administration, in response to food safety concerns, issued guidance documents for the fresh fruit & vegetable industry that provide guidance for reducing the possibility of contamination of fresh produce by microbial organisms. Shortly thereafter, many wholesale produce companies began to seek assurances that fresh produce suppliers were following the Good Agricultural Practices that these documents recommended.
Information from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources.

The USDA GAP & Harmonized GAP Food Safety Manual

Click here to view the GAP Food Safety Manual (last updated September 2013)

Click here to purchase a hard copy of the manual online

The GAP Food Safety Manual helps growers conform to good agricultural and good handling practices and prepare for a successful GAP/GHP audit. It includes step-by-step guidelines on how to develop individual farm plans, and a CD with record-keeping templates. Growers can customize these to verify USDA GAP/GHP on their farms.

The step-by-step guidelines for developing food safety plans can easily be tailored to each grower’s unique operations.

Topics match the sections of the GAP/GHP audit, and include:

  • farm review.
  • field harvest and field packing activities.
  • house packing facility.
  • storage and transportation.
  • traceback

How to Become GAP–Certified

  1. Develop and implement your farm food safety plan.
  2. Invite a certified Third Party Auditor to conduct a USDA Third Party Audit on your farm.
  3. For your audit, contact:

    Howard Vinton
    Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR)
    (617) 626-1803
    (617) 626-1850 (fax)

  4. When you have passed the USDA GAP & GHP Third Party Audit, you will become GAP/GHP-certified.

For more information on GAP and help in setting up a Food Safety Plan on your farm, contact:

Lisa McKeag
Extension Educator
(413) 577-3976

GAP on You Tube

To view videos click here:

Fact sheet- direct links to GAP videos using QR codes

Access the GAP videos via your smart phone UMass Youtube videos (accessed by Smartphone or computer) teaches Massachusetts beginning farmers and established growers strategies for controlling microbial food safety hazards throughout all phases of production, harvest, and post-harvest handling. This information also prepares growers for the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification process.

USDA GAP Cost Share Program

The Massachusetts Department of Agriculture, in collaboration with the USDA Specialty Crop Block Share Program in 2011. Any producer, individual or business located in Massachusetts that schedules and successfully completes their initial USDA GAP/GHP audit can apply for cost-share reimbursement. Qualified applicants may be eligible to receive up to a maximum of $750.00 per calendar year. Contact Michael Botelho, at 617-626-1721 or

Financial and development support for USDA GAP education program and materials has been provided by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources as part of an Agriculture Innovation Grant, as well as the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.