Farmer passing over a paper bag full of produce to a customer at a farmer's market
Updated: March 30, 2021

Good Agriculture Practices

Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices (GHP) are voluntary audits that verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored as safely as possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards. GAP & GHP audits verify adherence to the recommendations made in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables and industry recognized food safety practices.

Good Agricultural Practices refers to farming methods that reduce the likelihood of contaminating produce. Implementation of practices that address water quality, manure and compost use, worker health and hygiene and contamination from wild life, domestic animals and livestock. Good Handling Practices refers to post harvest handling of produce to minimize contamination. Practices include water quality, sanitation of the packing house, pest control programs, and sanitation of containers.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture, working in cooperation with the University of Maryland, provides producers with the training and certifications necessary to meet certification requirements.

This should be your first stop on learning more about GAP and GMP and the necessary regulations for each.

Other resources include:

Produce Safety and GAPs Resources, a whole toolkit of easy to understand materials from the University of Vermont

National GAPs Program, educational and training materials from Cornell

Wash station design, from Farm Hack

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