GAP Answer to Fruit Safety Concerns
Submitted by Oregon Department of Agriculture

One trend impacting Oregon blueberry growers these days is the concern among buyers, packers, distributors and consumers regarding the microbial safety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Particular interest has been given to commodities that are typically consumed raw. These concerns have led to a growing number of fresh produce retailers requiring third-party food safety audits throughout the supply chain – all the way to the farm level – prior to sale of many fresh commodities. These actions have led many blueberry growers throughout Oregon to adopt USDA GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) on their farms.

GAP Acres Grow

The Oregon Department of Agriculture, Commodity Inspection Division, reports more than half (approximately 3,300 acres) of the blueberries planted in Oregon were GAP certified in 2010, with about 75 individual farm entities participating in the program. Oregon blueberry growers have been proactive in adopting this certification program, with many operations statewide already in their third or fourth year of certification.

The USDA GAP audit is based on the Food and Drug Administration’s “Guidelines to Minimize Microbial Contamination for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables.” It’s also a nationally recognized cooperative partnership between the USDA, the State of Oregon and other federal/state inspection services. The USDA GAP audit consists of verifying compliance with three sections of the USDA Federal/State audit: General Questions, Farm Review and Field Harvest-Field Packing. The General Questions are constructed to verify the implementation of a basic food safety program. The Farm Review verifies that hazards associated with land use and water are addressed and mitigated and the Field Harvest and Field Packing section verifies proper implementation of precautions and practices that mitigate microbial contamination during harvest and field packing. An 80 percent pass rate across all scopes is required. For an operation to be USDA GAP certified, a qualified auditor must be on site while harvest crews are operating. The ODA employs more than twenty auditors across seven districts statewide that are readily available for GAP auditing services.

Cost of Program

The cost of a USDA GAP audit for 2012 in Oregon will be assessed at the Federal rate of $92 per hour for all certification activities, plus mileage at rates published by the Oregon Department of Administrative Services. Additionally, the ODA has applied for and received specialty crop block grant funding from USDA to provide cost-share reimbursement assistance similar to the existing federal organic cost-share program for Good Agricultural Practices certification costs. This cost-share is targeted toward small and beginning farmers who often have large barriers to entry in certification programs because of their size. Farms under 30 acres or farmers who have been farming ten years or less are eligible for the funds. The cost share will reimburse 75 percent, up to $250 for eligible farms. Funds are available in a limited amount and are dispersed on a first-come, first-served basis.

$150 More

The Oregon Blueberry Commission is also reimbursing smaller blueberry growers $150 when they become certified under the ODA/USDA Good Agricultural Practices act (GAP) program while limited funds are available.
Small farms were defined as anything less than 20 acres. Growers need to show proof of passing the certification along with the receipt they had to pay for the inspection. The refund program will end December 31, 2011.
Further information can be sourced at:, or by calling the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Commodity Inspection Division at (503) 986-4620.

Recent Stats

Blueberry growers may be interested in recent information furnished by the National Agricultural Statistics Service and the Oregon State University Extension service, which indicates the acreage of planted blueberries in the state of Oregon exceeded 6,000 acres in 2010. Total yields topped 50 million pounds, and the total value of the 2010 crop was nearly 60 million dollars. These numbers are indicative of upward trends in blueberry consumption worldwide.


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Oregon Blueberry Commission • P.O. Box 3366 • Salem, Oregon 97302
Paid for by the Oregon Blueberry Commission, an agency of the State of Oregon.