NCDA&CS offers cost-share grants to assist farmers with on-farm food safety efforts
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 for water analysis and independent certification of an operation’s good agricultural practices.
“Both grants are geared toward food safety efforts on the farm, which better enable growers to market their commodities,” 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 first 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 during 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 has previously offered 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 from an approved government agency or company that verifies GAP or GHP efforts, the audit must be conducted in 2009 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.
“Food safety remains an important issue for the produce industry,” 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”