Commercial Horticulture News – April 2020

— Written By and last updated by

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COVID-19 Distribution Disruptions

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is aware that farmers have seen disruptions in their normal distribution during this period of COVID-19 and social distancing. Retailers have seen panic buying patterns and are challenged to keep produce in stock and merchandised. If you are an NC grower of produce and looking to sell products that you don’t have a market for, we want to know. We will be compiling information, from NC growers, to distribute to major retailers on a weekly basis. This is not to be used as an alternate for markets that you already have. This service is set up to help those who don’t have markets to sell what they would normally. Call us weekly to update your availability and be listed in the distribution. This service will last until we no longer see a major need from the growers or interest from the retailers.

Who needs to call?

North Carolina farmers who lost the primary sales market for produce due to COVID–19 market disruption?

What information do I need to provide?

Farm name, contact person, phone number, email address, product type, availability dates, GAP certification information, and whether the product is conventional or organic.

When should I contact someone?

We need you to call one of our marketing specialists by 5:00 p.m. every Wednesday to be included in the list that will be distributed to retailers on Monday of the following week.

Where should I call?

Find the produce that best fits your offering and call the number listed.

What if I have multiple products on the list or my produce is not listed?

You don’t have to call multiple numbers. Our marketing specialists will take all your information in one call. If your produce is not listed, you can call any of the numbers listed below.

How long will this service last?

Until we no longer see a major need from the growers or interest from the retailers.

(919) 707-3125

  • Asparagus
  • Blueberries
  • Other

(984) 302-2310

  • Strawberries

(919) 707-3127

  • Organic/CFSA
  • Sweet Potatoes

(919) 707-3129

  • Peanuts

(252) 340-1129

  • Bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Collards
  • Greens
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard Greens
  • Napa
  • Romaine

(828) 413-2767

Herbs

(919) 707-3123

  • Beets
  • Greenhouse Vegetables
  • Green Peas
  • Mushrooms
  • Radishes
  • Snow Peas
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Turnips
  • Zucchini

Letter from the NCDA&CS >>


USDA Temporarily Extends Some Audit Program Certifications

image of the words US Dept. of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service header

Image of USDA post about USDA Temporarily Extends Expiration Dates for Some Good Agricultural Practices, Domestic Origin Verification, Plant Systems Audit Program Certifications
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is committed to delivering the timely services needed to support the movement of America’s food supply and will continue to take steps to meet challenges due to the COVID-19 national emergency.
To aid the movement of fresh specialty crops into marketing channels, AMS is extending the expiration date of USDA audit certifications scheduled to expire on or before May 31, 2020, by 60 days. USDA audit certifications are normally valid for 12 months. The certification extension applies to 400 current auditees certified under the USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Domestic Origin Verification and Plant Systems Audit programs.
AMS is advising affected auditees of their 60-day extension and is updating information under “Find a USDA Gap-Certified Company” on the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) & Good Handling Practices (GHP) webpage to reflect the extended audit expiration dates.
Extending the expiration date for auditees with current certifications will allow AMS to concentrate resources on providing food safety verification audits for entities new to USDA audit programs who require certification to move product into commerce.
The extension is in alignment with the International Accreditation Forum’s Informative Document for Management of Extraordinary Events or Circumstances Affecting Accreditation Bodies and Certifying Organizations, Issue 1, which establishes guidelines for extending food safety audit certifications. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) also has communicated that, based on risk, certification bodies may be able to extend certifications under extraordinary circumstances for up to six months.
AMS recognizes that USDA specialty crops inspections and audits are critical to the nation’s food supply chain, and we are committed to ensuring the continuity of our audit operations.

Resources for fresh produce growers dealing with COVID-19 These resources are categorized for you into Labor Availability, Markets and Farm Markets, Cleaning and Sanitation, Worker Health and Hygiene, Trade Association Information, and Federal Coronavirus information sites.