Blueberry GAP Certifications Growing

Chain reactions in the blueberry industry are greatly helping to increase Oregon blueberry farm certifications under the USDA/ODA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Audit Verification Program.

What’s happening, said Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) certification manager Lindsay Eng, is that in many cases blueberry buyers are pushing packers to get involved with the program and packers, in turn, are pushing growers to sign up.

“We’ve seen definite increases in certified GAP blueberry growers,” said Eng.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture, Commodity Inspection Division, reported last fall that more than half of the blueberries planted in Oregon, around 3,300 acres, were GAP certified in 2010, with about 75 individual farms participating in the program.  In 2011, ODA reported that there were some 3,720 acres enrolled, with 93 farms participating.

Cost of Program

The cost of an ODA GAP audit in Oregon is $92 per hour, up from $75 per hour in 2011, 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. 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 applying for their first year of certification 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.

Eng said that a new, more widely accepted standard, called the Produce GAPs Harmonized Food Safety Standard, is now being used around the country. “It’s a little bit more expensive, but it’s a little more in line with private standards for third-party auditing,” Eng said. “So we may see movement in that direction. (ODA) is already offering the standard, but in the next couple of years that may become more popular with buyers than the GAP (ODA is) doing right now.”

For more information on GAP go to There you’ll find, among other things, a manual that may help growers determine how to meet GAP certification requirements and a sample farm safety plan.

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Blueberry GAP Certifications Growing

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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.