The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) will offer a “Good Handling Practices/Good Agricultural Practices” (GHP/GAP) training Thursday, February 28, during the WVU Extension Service’s 2013 Small Farm Conference, to be held at the Waterfront Hotel in Morgantown February 27-March 2. 2013. The training is ideal for any West Virginia produce growers marketing food directly to the public, or those seeking to become a Farm to School supplier. Although GHP/GAP certification is not currently required by law, increasingly stringent federal food safety standards may make GHP-GAP certification very valuable in the near future. And the class is a bargain compared to similar courses offered commercially.
“This is one of the services WVDA provides that helps the competiveness of our small agribusinesses,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick. “And it serves a dual purpose in that it also helps provide a safer food supply for every West Virginia consumer.”
WVDA Marketing and Development Director Jean Smith added that the training will cover safe production, processing and packing procedures, along with proper record-keeping to ensure traceability in case of a food-borne disease outbreak.
“Local foods are really booming in West Virginia, but for that to continue, consumers must believe in the products they’re buying. This class prepares producers for third-party audits that can go a long way toward ensuring long-term confidence in local foods,” said Smith.
Virginia Tech professor Robert Williams will lead the program. Professor Williams is a food safety and technology expert who has been conducting programs for WVDA for the past four years. The course is designed to be practical and give participants tools for immediate on-farm implementation whether or not they chose to participate in the official GHP/GAP certification program.
Attendance does satisfy the education requirement for the West Virginia GHP/GAP Audit Reimbursement Program. The Audit Reimbursement Program is funded through the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and allows qualified farms the opportunity to recover up to 75 percent of their costs associated with a successful federal GHP/GAP Audit.
Cost for the course is $25, plus a $70 daily conference fee that includes breakfast and lunch. To register for this training, visit http://smallfarmcenter.ext.wvu.edu/conference
Department of Agriculture