Do I have to certify my farm?
The opportunity to run your own business and be your own boss is full of appeal. Farming is a great way to make your own hours, and approach life on your terms. So when someone tells you to follow rules and regulations, it’s not always an easy thing to accept.
Why certification is important to your farm
The most important benefit to being certified is access to certain markets. For example, the Good Agricultural Practices (see below) certification often means a farmer can sell to groceries or other large-scale consumer markets. Without the Good Agricultural Practices certification, a farmer can rarely expand beyond private or food service buyers.
What types of certification are there?
Certification is a broad term containing a number of different vetting processes that are provided by state, federal, and private organizations. These processes usually have the aim of regulating or safeguarding particular industries from legal liability or commercial monopolies.
For farms, certification will often focus on ensuring crops are safe to eat, pesticides are applied correctly, or that a farm won’t pose a safety risk to water or living conditions of nearby communities.We’ll go over some examples of certification, the pros/cons, and exactly how optional each certification is for farmers at large. Here are some examples of common certifications that new farmers should consider pursuing:
Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)
The Good Agricultural Practices is a voluntary audit that most large groceries and food distributors require before buying produce from a farmer.
Pros: The GAP certification is a required step for selling produce to most groceries. GAP certification means pursuing commercial markets, more sales, and more opportunity.
Cons: Administered by third-party certifiers, there may be a waiting process to reach certification. If your farm plan will rely upon commercial produce sales to remain afloat, pursuing GAP as soon as possible is essential.