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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Good agricultural practice overview to be presented at organic farming conference

LAS CRUCES - In response to the increase in food-borne illnesses related to fruits and vegetables, New Mexico State University's College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Science will be conducting a Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) training to help food producers reduce the microbial risks in fruits and vegetables grown in New Mexico.

An introduction to GAP will be given during the New Mexico Organic Farming Conference from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Feb. 28, at Hotel Encanto, 705 South Telshor Blvd. in Las Cruces. Del Jimenez, NMSU Extension agriculture specialist, Nancy Flores, NMSU associate professor and Extension food technology specialist, and Stacey Gerk from New Mexico Department of Agriculture will be giving the training.

"Farmers are required to have GAP certification for each crop they produce," said Flores. "We will present an introductory overview of GAP requirements and provide valuable materials to help with implementation of this food safety program."

GAP training provides growers with general guidelines that can be tailored to their own operations. The training helps producers review various produce production practices they are using, assess their current management strengths and weaknesses related to minimizing microbial risks, develop a comprehensive record-keeping strategy that documents all farm actions that reduce microbial risks, identify changes in farm management and production practices that can reduce the risk of microbial contamination, and develop action plans to improve the food safety of produce grown or packaged on their farms.

The New Mexico Organic Farming Conference will be Friday and Saturday, Feb. 27 and 28. There is registration fee of $100 to attend both days or $65 for each day. Registration will be held at the conference from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. each day.

Jane Moorman
Feb. 3, 2009