Scott Monroe

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​Recently the USDA announced the addition of a new third-party auditing service that will be available through the Ag Marketing Service (AMS). The service, called “GroupGAP”, will be available in the spring of 2016. The expansion of the service follows multi-year piloting and testing of the program. Under the GroupGAP program, independent farms may organize under a central entity, such as a food hub or grower cooperative, to create a food safety system. Participating farms are responsible for collectively developing food safety practices and collecting required documentation. Entities will also be responsible for providing their own internal auditing services. They will also participate in an external audit by USDA-AMS Specialty Crops Inspection Service. Growers marketing through food hubs, cooperatives, produce auctions, or other collective entities may benefit from this program. The full press release and details from USDA may be found at

Note that the Wabash River is visible through the break in the trees.

​With the record-setting rainfall we’ve seen over the past month, flooding of fields is very widespread (Figure 1). Fields that have experienced flooding present growers with difficult management choices. Flooding is defined (per FDA) as the “flowing or overflowing of a field with water outside a grower’s control.” Flooding is associated with streams, creeks, or ponds that overflow their banks and cannot be controlled. The FDA considers food contacted by flood water to be “adulterated” and not fit for human consumption. Due to microbial and other concerns, produce cannot be harvested and sold into the public food supply once it contacts flood water. Frequently, only a portion of a field is affected by flooding. If only part of a field is affected and flood water contacts the edible portion of the crop, growers should manage the contaminated crop so that it does not affect uncontaminated crops. To protect uncontaminated crops,[Read More…]

​Purdue University and the Illiana Watermelon Association (IWA) are offering food safety audit cost-share programs to Indiana fruit and vegetable growers this year. Funds for the programs come from a grant from the Indiana State Department of Agriculture through the USDA Specialty Crops Block Grant Program. Through the Purdue program, Indiana fruit or vegetable growers who receive passing scores on their third party food safety audits are eligible for reimbursement of 40% of their audit cost, up to a maximum of $400 per farm. Through the Illiana Watermelon Association program IWA members may receive reimbursement for 75% of an audit cost (up to  $1,500) if a preferred audit-provider is used, or 60% (up to $1,200) if a non-preferred provider is used. Producers of any fruit or vegetable wishing to take advantage of the IWA program may join the IWA. To apply for cost-sharing, complete and return the appropriate application by[Read More…]

​As we approach the 2015 growing season, produce food safety continues to be an important issue.  This year, why not make it one of your goals to create a “culture” of food safety on your farm?  Below are some things you can do to get started on that goal during the winter months:Review (or get started on) your written food safety plan. Winter is an excellent time to review your written food safety plan.  As you review the plan, ask yourself if all policies and procedures are written in such a way that they are easily understood.  Review any areas, such as hand washing, documentation, etc., that presented particular challenges for the farm, to see if expectations can be clarified or if procedures can be simplified. Make sure policies and procedures are available in the appropriate languages. As we see an ever-increasing level of diversity in our labor force, it[Read More…]