Grant to Aid Specialty Crop Growers Gain Access to Additional Markets

Carol Sanders | School of Agriculture, Fisheries and Human Sciences

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff has received a specialty crop block grant from the Arkansas Agriculture Department to help producers in eastern Arkansas access markets that require Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification.

Within six months, workshops will be conducted in Crittenden, Cross, Desha, Drew, Lee, Lincoln, Monroe, Phillips and St. Francis counties, said Iris Cole Crosby, Cooperative Extension Program associate and grant principal investigator. The $54,080 grant will provide food safety, GAP/Good Handling Practices (GHP) training and technical assistance for up to 40 small, beginning and socially disadvantaged specialty crop producers and four packing shed owners.

“Most of the these specialty crop producers in eastern Arkansas are not GAP certified,” said Crosby, “and the lack of certification prevents them for accessing certain markets, such as the fresh market Walmart southern pea and squash market.”

“This project will provide not only provide GAP/GHP education and training, it will also partially reimburse producers and packing shed owners who take and pass the U.S. Department of Agriculture GAP/GHP audit. Thus, producers will have access to markets requiring GAP Certification,” said Crosby, UAPB Arkansas Demonstration Outreach Center coordinator.

Producers interested in GAP/GHP workshops or audits should contact Crosby at (870) 295-3199 or adoc@uapb.edu and producers in Desha, Drew or Jefferson counties should contact Dr. Henry English, director of the UAPB Small Farm Program, at (870) 575-7246 or englishh@uapb.edu.

The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers all of its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

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