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Fruit and Vegetable Cost Share Opportunity Increased

Friday, July 10, 2020 | 12:12pm

NASHVILLE — Tennessee farmers who want to access additional markets and increase food safety can now do so with less expense. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture (TDA) will reimburse qualified producers who become Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certified. These producers can get 75% of the GAP certification inspection reimbursed, up to $1,500. That is, double the amount available last year.

“We’re proud to further support producers in Tennessee through this cost share opportunity,” Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Hatcher, D.V.M.  said. “The certification can lead to increased farmer income and ensures fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, and stored safely to minimize food safety hazards.”

GAP certification allows producers to sell directly to customers with stringent food safety requirements, such as large grocery stores, hospitals, and universities that require this food safety benchmark.

“This cost share offset the certification fee for my greenhouse operation and opened the door to new opportunities,” Kevin McClung, co-owner of ZMac Farms LLC in Dickson said. “GAP certification enables me to serve additional businesses that require this high standard. The increase in the reimbursement is significant to all farmers especially now during this challenging economic environment.”

The application period closes Oct. 31, 2020. Funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The cost share program is only for producers; warehouses and distributors are not eligible. Funding for the GAP cost share program is made possible by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Services Specialty Crop Block Grant program.

You can find information and the cost share application at www.tn.gov/agriculture/farms/produce-nursery/GAP or by emailing Grant Pulse at grant.pulse@tn.gov.