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Community Accreditation For Produce Safety in Vermont


The long term goals of the project are to help these farms reduce risk and maintain credibility in the marketplace. University of Vermont (UVM) Extension has collaborated with the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers Association (VVBGA) and state agencies to develop Community Accreditation for Produce Safety or CAPS. This farmer-driven program uses an on-line platform where farmers learn about best practices, write produce safety plans that address required food safety practices, and then document the implementation of their plans. CAPS is not a regulatory program but its requirements are consistent with FSMA guidelines. These requirements have been identified by an advisory board of VVBGA farmers, state regulators and produce buyers. CAPS is a voluntary program that helps the small and medium-size farmers that comprise the VVBGA membership to adopt best practices for produce safety, and then provides public recognition for doing so.Sixty-eighty farms have enrolled in CAPS for 2016.
These farms have completed their on-line produce safety plans and, over the course of the growing season, will document the implementation of these plans by uploading the required materials to their on-line farm folder. These materials will be reviewed by teams of farmers and agency personnel at the end of the year. Farms completing all required documentation will become accredited by the VVBGA for the subsequent growing season. An additional 17 farms are using the CAPS platform in 2016 to complete their produce safety plans but do not wish to become accredited.This project will provideongoing program management with the goal of increasing participation in CAPS by 50% per year over the next two years. One hundred farms are expectedto complete the accreditation process in 2017 and 150 farms will complete the process in 2018. In 2017 and 2018 an additional 25 and 40 farms, respectively, are expected to use the CAPS platform to complete produce safety plans without seeking accreditation.

Grubinger, V.
University of Vermont
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