GAP training for Hispanic growers June 3-4, 2016

The training will prepare underserved and minority berry growers for third party Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Audits under the new Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety rule.

The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety rule is now final, and the earliest compliance date for some covered farms is two years after the effective date of the final rule (FDA 2015). However, some previsions will take place September 2016. The rule establishes science-based minimum standards for the safe production of fruits and vegetables for human consumption.

Although the ruling provides exceptions and grace periods for small farms, compliance is an insurmountable obstacle for many small farms, jeopardizing the sustainability of a grower’s farm. Latino growers and farmworkers are especially affected by these new regulations. Language and educational barriers make it very difficult for them to access information and assistance through traditional communication channels, such as extension websites, informational meetings and training provided by buyers and other third party sources of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) information.

For these reasons, Michigan State University Extension in cooperation with Michigan Food and Farming Systems is programming several GAP workshops in Spanish for this 2016 crop season. The purpose is to deliver educational and technical assistance to Latino blueberry growers and farmworkers whose only sources of information and assistance to comply with the new FSMA regulations is MSU Extension.

In 2016, we will offer two workshops before the blueberry harvest. Each workshop will consist of half-day in the classroom and one day on the farm. The first workshop is Friday-Saturday, June 3-4, 2016. Training will take place at the MSU Trevor Nichols Research Center in Fennville, Michigan, and the hands-on session will take place at selected farms participating in the training. This training will facilitate growers’ compliance with the minimum requirements demanded by the FDA and buyers. All training will be conducted by the fruit MSU Extension produce safety team members: Carlos García-Salazar, Phil Tocco, Anamaría Gómez-Rodas, Mark Longstroth, also Filiberto Villa from MIFFS as collaborator.

See the agenda below, or view this flier in Spanish for more information.

Friday, June 3 (Day 1), Classroom session:

  • Introduction to GAP to minimize food safety issues.
  • Blueberry pre- and post-harvest microbial contamination.
  • Worker health and hygiene.
  • Field sanitation.
  • Water quality.

Saturday, June 4 (Day 2), Hands-on training:

  • USDA checklist-GAP MDA.
  • How to develop your own food safety manual.
  • How to conduct a risk assessment prior to a third party audit.

At the hands-on segment, trainees will develop their food safety manuals with information they will bring to the classroom. Also, they will conduct a risk assessment at their farm using their food safety manuals and with the assistance of the MSU Extension instructors. During the training, growers will receive one-on-one assistance to conduct their risk assessment at their farm and assistance to develop their food safety manuals. After training, we will follow up with help for growers who may need further assistance.

Growers and farmworkers participating in this training will receive a certificate of completion of training. Blueberry growers and other fruit growers in Kent, Ottawa, Allegan, Van Buren and other neighboring counties are encouraged to send their Spanish-speaking farmworkers to take advantage of this training to comply with the new FSMA rules.

There will be a recuperation fee of $30 per participant that will cover materials, refreshments and lunches. To register your workers or yourself, contact Filiberto Villa at 269-830-2309 or

Did you find this article useful?