At the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, we believe that Hawaii farmers can produce the safest, freshest food in the world. It can be one of Hawaii’s competitive advantages! We coach highly motivated farmers, packers, and processors to elevate their business and their products to world-class standards. Those standards have been set by agricultural industry trade groups, farm companies, scientists, different government agencies, as well as from recent consumer demands. World-class food means local children and adults, as well as visitors, get the best product possible! Good agricultural practices are for conventional and organic growers – “certified organic” is not the same as Good Agricultural Practices which focuses on the sources of human and animal pathogens on a farm. Contact us (or see our contact list here) for a coaching visit – you will be amazed what you learn about your farm and how you can turn it into a world-class operation that will make you and your family proud. We’re also part of the FDA-USDA-Cornell University-Land Grant Produce Safety (educational) Alliance. The produce industry’s best practices include:
- Making sure the farm has well-maintained toilets and hand-washing facilities with potable water & hand soap for hand washing.
- Making sure employees are washing their hands before harvesting and handling produce.
- Using a proactive pest management strategy for rodents, birds, deer, pigs, slugs and snails.
- Keeping animals and their fresh manures away from active fields and orchards.
- Using the right crop protection chemicals, fertilizers and composts according to their labeled (legal) directions, and recording every use. And, educating growers on how to follow the US EPA Worker Protection Standard rules.
- Making sure that produce, and harvest baskets with holes, do not come in contact with the soil or unclean surfaces.
- Using appropriate quality water for irrigation and crop rinse as indicated by a water test from an approved laboratory.
- Making sure the packing shed, food contact packing surfaces, and refrigerators are well maintained and not a potential source of contamination.
- Labeling each sell unit with farmer contact information, “Grown in Hawaii,” and the appropriate field and harvest information to allow trace-back to a specific field within 2 hours.
Starting from no records, but a fairly organized farm and packing shed, you could be ready for an internationally-recognized third party audit in as little as 2 weeks – if you are highly motivated to make it happen. Our coaching (audit preparation) services are free (for now) and the average audit price for our clients from the Hawaii Department of Agriculture is about $250 (plus a $25 fee for website use). If the auditors need to travel to another island, travel costs are extra. We work with the following auditing companies and are willing to tune you up for any auditing company. (NOTE: this is NOT an endorsement of any company. This is just a list of companies that are auditing in Hawaii at the moment as is provided for the convenience of site users. Please advise us of other auditing companies that work in Hawaii.)
- Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Branch. See the contact list here.
- NSF-Agriculture (formerly NSF-Davis Fresh, performs a suite of food safety audits)
- PrimusLabs.com (for those farmers who sell to specific buyers who require a “Contracted” audit).
- US Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service audit program.