Audit Process:

USDA Group GAP Food Safety Program:

A new certification program for small or medium-size producers to work together to undergo GAP certification. Check this site for more details:

United Fresh Produce Association Harmonized GAP Standards:

An audit that harmonizes GAP standards to be acceptable to multiple buyers, by focusing resources on achieving food safety, rather than passing many different audits:

Proper compliance of practices is crucial for the safety and success of your farm. For more information and educational materials, watch the video below or visit Cornell University’s GAPs and Cornell University’s Produce Safety Alliance.

 Audit Categories:

The audit you choose will depend on your operation (field or greenhouse) and what your buyer requires. It is ALWAYS a good idea to check with your buyers regarding their audit requirements. For small to medium size operations, you now have an option to get GAP certification as a group, through the USDA GroupGAP program.

Other specialized audits include Harmonized GAPGlobal GAP, and PrimusGFS.

  1. Farm or Ranch Audit (coming soon!)
  2. Greenhouse (Shadehouse) Audit
  3. Harvest Audit (coming soon!)
  4. Packing House Audit (Wholesale, Distributor, Cold Storage)
  5. Processing Audit


Farmers’ Market
School & Home Gardens
Farm to School

Developing Your Food Safety Manual:

Whatever audit company you use, you will need to prepare a food safety manual tailored specifically to your farm or packing house.  This written document should cover your growing and handling processes and assesses the potential risk of contamination from chemical, physical and biological hazards.

For convenience and cost (it’s free), you may want to use the manual generator. Questions about your operation will provide a shell for your food safety manual in 10-15 minutes.

Log-on to the site here.  Select your audit type to begin.

Click here for help on Writing Your Food Safety Plan.

Preparing for Your Mock Audit:

Once you have all the large pieces in place, food safety manual with SOPs, logs, and other supporting documents, you are ready to conduct a “mock” or pretend audit of your operation.  The mock audit is conducted just like a real audit, using the checklist for the audit you have selected.  The process helps you identify areas that may need corrective actions, prior to the real audit.  Be sure to address all automatic fail questions before scheduling your audit.

Mock Audit  Ranch Greenhouse Packing House
(v07.04) (v07.08) (v08.06)

 For USDA audits, use checklists found within each of these GAP & GHP Audit Services:
1) Harmonized GAP


3) Group GAP Food Safety Program

Preparing for Your audit:

Contact the audit company you will use to schedule your audit.  Confirm the date, location and the type of audit you are requesting and fees and documents required.  You should be using the same checklist used for the mock audit.

Congratulations, you have been running a year or more under Good Agricultural Practices! Now, you just need to verify if there have been any changes. Use this checklist to confirm that you are on the right path.

After the Audit:

You will get a audit report back from the hired company along with your score. Keep a copy for your files and provide a copy of the certificate to your buyer(s) requesting your third-party audit.

For more information and resources on Getting Your 3rd Party Audit, see our list of contacts here.

Informative videos on the GAP topics provided by Carolina Farm Stewardship Association