Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs)

GAPs: The term Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) can refer to any collection of specific methods, which when applied to agriculture, produces results that are in harmony with the values of the proponents of those practices. There are numerous competing definitions of what methods constitute “Good Agricultural Practices,” so whether a practice can be considered “good” will depend on the standards you are applying.

General GAPs

Good Agricultural Practices explained: The four main categories are covered here: soil, water, hygiene and surfaces.

This publication from Iowa State University is often cited by other agencies. Download:

• Canada GAPs: This website includes on-farm food safety manuals, tools and an audit checklist.  Most all of these GAPs apply to the US and California. Link:

Global GAP: (website in progress) Designed to inform and engage how farmers can connect with brand owners around the world. Link:

Cornell University GAPs:  Food Safety Begins on the Farm. Download:

Harmonized GAPs:  Many leaders throughout the produce industry have increasingly recognized the cost and inefficiency of the multiple standards and audits now being used to measure compliance with GAPs.  Therefore, various organizations and companies together developed harmonized GAPs for both on-farm and post-harvest, which the USDA plans to adopt as well. Link:

CAFF GAPs: CAFF worked with a group of organic farmers and Cooperative Extension to develop an acceptable set of basic GAPs for such farms: See CAFF GAPs July 2010(pdf)

ATTRA GAPsNational Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA): An Illustrated Guide to Growing Safe Produce on your farm. This is available to download or in hard copy for a small fee. Link:

USDA GAP/GHP Program: This website has all of the GAPs that USDA audits around the country, including their general GAPS, tomatoes, mushrooms, and leafy greens.  Link:

USDA GAPs – Washington State: Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Fruit and Vegetable Inspection Program, offers a self audit and detailed explanation of the basic GAPs with pictures. Download:

Codes of GAPs from Department of Agriculture: For Fresh Fruits and Vegetable Farming – See Codes of GAP from Department of Agriculture (pdf)

Irrigation Water GAPs

see GAP for Irrigation Water (pdf)

Commodity-Specific GAPs

Blueberry GAPs: These two PDF documents (CA and MI) cover all the basic GAPs and how to implement them. See CA Blueberry GAPs manual and MI Blueberry GAPs manual (pdf)

Citrus GAPs: From California and Florida – See Citrus GAPs – California and Citrus GAPs – Florida (pdf)

Cantaloupe GAPs: The California Melon Research Board. Though there are no documented cases of California cantaloupes sickening consumers due to pathogenic bacteria, nevertheless the recent Colorado incident has caused the industry to create a food safety requirement for all cantaloupe handlers in California. Cantaloupe GAPs will be adopted by the marketing order board by 2013. Current food safety guidance can be found at: Link:

Culinary Herb GAPs: This Canadian website has a good fundamental overview of GAPs for all culinary herbs both produced on the farm and collected in the wild. Link:

California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA): The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA) was created in 2007 to protect public health after the E. coli O157:H7 spinach contamination in 2006.  LGMA incorporates science-based food safety practices and mandatory government inspections in an effort to assure safe leafy green products.  Continuous improvement of the LGMA is achieved through required corrective action and industry education. Link:

Mushroom GAPs: Mushroom Good Agricultural Practices (MGAP) are a set of industry-wide food safety standards and procedures for growing, harvesting and shipping fresh mushrooms that growers can use to enhance and document safe mushroom growing practices. Link:

Potato GAPs: The University of Idaho Potato GAP Audit Organizational Manual. The GAP Manual and GAP Manual Intro provide information and resources for potato storage management and information on what GAPs are, a GAP manual layout, and how to use this manual format.  Please note that the SOP template included in this manual needs to be tailored to your specific farming operation since some points may not be applicable. Within this manual there are sections that include pre-formatted documents, areas to insert maps, and the current USDA Audit Checklist. This website also has links to the most current USDA audit checklist as well. The current manual is updated to correspond with the new USDA audit release 1/26/2012. Link:

Sprouts Safety Alliance (FDA): This website describes the FDA collaboration for food safety in sprouts. Link:

Strawberry GAPs: The California Strawberry Commission’s Food Safety Program (FSP) is designed to help growers examine and improve safety practices, and meet the generally accepted standards of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs). Link:
English: See Strawberry GAPs FSP_English (pdf)
Spanish: See Strawberry GAPs FSP_Spanish (pdf)

Tomato GAPs: Key Points of Control and Management of Microbial Food Safety for Growers, Packers, and Handlers of Fresh Market Tomatoes. Link: or see: Key Points – Fresh Market Tomatoes – UC Good Agricultural Practices (pdf)

Sustainable Tomatoes, GAP Guidelines: see 2004 Sustainable Tomatoes – Good Agricultural Practice Guidelines_tcm13-5325 (pdf)

Watermelon GAPs: National Watermelon Association – Food Safety website page has a great description of basic GAPs along with a number of downloadable documents for a food safety plan in both English and Spanish: Link: Also, see: Watermelon GAP Packer Self-Audit (pdf), and Watermelon GAP Farm Self-Audit (pdf)


Updated 09-13-12