Iowa GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) Program

As the consumer demand for locally grown fruit and vegetables has increased, so has the expectation that all farms will follow agricultural best practices.  Education and outreach efforts are critical to ensure that growers are fully equipped with knowledge of how to operate a farm under good agricultural and management practices.

Increasingly, producers are recognizing that to remain profitable, they need to expand their business to include more value added products and marketing venues.  With these business expansions, education in business management, food regulations, good agricultural best practices, and traceability are critical.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, through a grant funded by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Services Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, conducts a sequential three-level Good Agricultural Practices Workshops for fruit and vegetable producers throughout Iowa. This on-farm food safety program provides education on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), food regulation, marketing and economics, and GAP auditing criteria.  The program will aid growers in creating an on-farm food safety plan and in becoming market and GAP audit ready.  It will prepare producers to expand markets and ensure safe food is sold.  

In addition to this three-level pilot program, an annual webinar will be created to update producers about changes in the regulatory environment, such as the Food Safety Modernization Act and Food Code.  The key instructors are Dr. Angela Shaw, Dr. Catherine Strohbehn and Linda Naeve.

To access the videos, use the menu to the left.

Course descriptions

  • Level 1- KNOW: Farmers who provide food directly to consumers through community–supported agriculture (CSA), farmers’ markets, or considering retail foodservice sales will be trained in good agriculture best practices and market considerations.
  • Level 2- SHOW: This course is geared towards farmers considering sales to retail foodservices, such as grocers, restaurants, hospitals, and other institutions.  Additionally, those interested in adding value to fresh produce and selling products in a convenience form should consider this course.  Those completing this workshop will have the “bones” of their farm’s written food safety plan in place to demonstrate GAPs are in place and provide food safety assurances to buyers.
  • Level 3- GO: Trained farmers will be GAP-audit ready and fully equipped to service large-scale food distribution. 

Who Should Attend

  • Growers who plan to sell to multiple venues or are interested in serving multiple venues     
  • Growers interested in wholesale, institutions, farm-to-school
  • Growers who want to provide value-added products
  • Owners and operators of farms and gardens

Learning Objectives

Level One

  • Increase knowledge of on-farm hazards and good agricultural practices
  • Basic food microbiology knowledge
  • Increased awareness of food regulations for selling of fresh produce and light processing

Level Two

  • Increased knowledge of the hazards on the farm
  • Able to develop a food safety plan that details the control measures employed on the farms
  • Increased knowledge of market potentials and needs to expand

Level Three

  • Increased knowledge of GAP Audit standards
  • Understanding of market strategies to improve profitability


Future Dates
To schedule a Fall or Spring course, contact us at IowaFSMA@iastate.edu.