Coordinated Audits

Question: How much does a USDA GAP audit cost in Iowa?

Third party Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification is expensive for small-scale farmers. Because of the low number of Iowa farms requiring certification, auditors come from out-of-state. The most common certification body used in Iowa at this time is the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service, and auditors will come from Illinois, Missouri or Texas. USDA GAP audits of Iowa farms can exceed $1000 per year.

There have been conversations in Iowa about training people to be state auditors to lower the travel costs associated with an audit.  However, different buyers may request audits from different certification standards and training auditors to more than one standard is prohibitive and not feasible. For example, one buyer might require a USDA GAP audit while another might require a Primus GAP audit.

Several approaches to make audits more affordable have been studied in Iowa. One approach requires neighboring farms to work together.

Called “coordinated audits”, farms in certain areas (generally within 100 miles) will work together to schedule the auditor to visit their farms in the same day or adjacent days. In northeast Iowa, an auditor could visit 2-3 small farms in a day when the farms are 30-40 miles from each other.

This effort to coordinate the auditor’s time results in the travel costs being shared between the farms. Farms practicing “audit coordination” have seen their audit costs cut in half – $500-600 per farm.

When coupled with a GAP cost-share program, where farmers can receive $400-500 in cost-share, GAP certification becomes more realistic.

For more information about coordinated audits, talk to your neighbors, or contact Teresa Wiemerslage at wiemer@iastate.edu. Most Iowa audits take place in August and September.

 

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