Food Safety

The GroupGAP Program includes working with grower groups to pool their resources to establish food safety best practices, lead food safety trainings, develop quality management systems, and pay for certification costs.

Building a good food safety plan is a top priority for a new and beginning farm business.  There are both national and state regulations which apply to farm and ranch businesses.  For federal compliance, the following resources can be useful.         

For more information on your individual state’s requirements, please visit your state department of agriculture., a production of the University of Minnesota, and funded by USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Grant program (BFRDP) as the national BFRDP clearinghouse, makes available several key food safety guides.  

Food Safety: Help With GAP Certification
USDA offers a user's guide to Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices Audits from the Agricultural Marketing Service - as well as information about the audit process.

USDA’s new GroupGAP Certification Program makes food safety certification accessible and affordable for farmers of all sizes, from smallest to largest.

USDA and leaders from food and agriculture organizations also support a free online tool, On-Farm Food Safety Project, to help U.S. producers of all sizes achieve GAP-harmonized standards and certification. This site helps farmers design a customized manual to meet GAP-harmonized standards and certification requirements, including USDA GAP standards, and mitigate business risks by answering just a few questions.

Food Safety: Produce Safety Alliance
The Produce Safety Alliance is developing a nationwide curriculum to increase understanding of the principles of Good Agricultural Practices and to facilitate implementation of food safety regulations that will be part of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Their website includes information about training opportunities, educational materials, regulatory updates, and national produce safety collaborators. Outreach efforts focus on fresh produce growers, packers, and grower cooperatives, with special emphasis on small and very small farms and packinghouses. Additional materials for specific processed products and sprouts may also be found here: 

  • Food Safety: Food Safety Preventive Controls Safety Alliance
    The Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance is a broad-based public-private alliance consisting of key industry, academic, and government stakeholders. Their mission is to support safe food production by developing a broad range of materials including a nationwide core curriculum as well as training and outreach programs to assist human and animal-food production companies in complying with the preventive controls regulations that will be part of FSMA.
  • Food Safety: Sprout Safety Alliance
    The Sprout Safety Alliance is a public-private alliance developing a core curriculum, training and outreach programs for stakeholders in the sprout production community. The goal is to enhance the industry's understanding and implementation of best practices for improving sprout safety, and additional requirements for sprout producers in the upcoming rule on standards for produce safety required by FSMA.

Complying with USDA Meat, Poultry, and Processed Egg Regulations
New and small producers of meat, poultry, or processed egg products who have questions about inspection-related policies, programs, systems, and procedures can find resources through the Food Safety and Inspection Service's Small Plant Help Desk.