CAPS for Buyers of Fresh Local Produce

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Click HERE–to view CAPS Action Photos and Key Points.

Click HERE –to print CAPS Brochure (bi-fold).

Read More about CAPS Below

What is CAPS?

  • Community Accreditation for Produce Safety (CAPS) is a program of the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers Association (VVBGA). CAPS is a voluntary, non-regulatory program that helps farmers plan and document use of practices that reduce food safety risks associated with fresh produce.
  • An advisory board of farmers and service providers has identified 18 practices that are required for CAPS accreditation. Farmers use an on-line platform at https://vvbga.org/ to upload their plans and the evidence that they were implemented. These documents and pictures are in on-line farm folders, which are examined by a team of reviewers before accreditation is granted. Buyers can see these folders, too, with the permission of farmers.

Why should buyers of fresh local produce support CAPS?

  • CAPS gives buyers assurance that their farm suppliers are minimizing food safety risks and complying with the intent of FSMA, the Food Safety Modernization Act.
  • CAPS allows buyers to view the on-line folders of participating farms, including their produce safety plans, supporting photos, operating procedures, water tests, and accreditation certificate.
  • CAPS is practical and affordable for the small-scale farmer wishing to demonstrate adoption of accepted food safety practices, but for whom GAPS is too costly and time-consuming.
  • CAPS has broad-based support as it was developed collaboratively by the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers Association (VVBGA), the Vermont Agency of Agriculture Food and Markets (VAAFM), and University of Vermont Extension.
  • Supporting CAPS will send a positive message about your business to farmers and the public.

How buyers of fresh local produce can support CAPS

  • Ask supplying farms if they have a produce safety plan, or are CAPS participants.
  • Encourage or request that your supplying farms participate in CAPS at one of the three levels:
  • Write a CAPS Produce Safety Plan (Tier1–Free for VVBGA members.)
  • Participate in CAPS, and earn a CAPS Certificate (Tier 2–$100 for VVBGA members.)
  • Participate in CAPS-Plus, and receive an additional third-party on-farm audit from VAAFM. CAPS-Plus has been accepted by major supermarket chains for use by growers in place of USDA GAPs. (Tier 3 costs $200-300 for VVBGA members.)
  • Support CAPS financially, and receive recognition, if desired, though the VVBGA.
    • Make a tax-deductible donation to the UVM gift fund that helps support CAPS.
    • Offer full or partial reimbursement of CAPS fees to your farm suppliers to encourage their participation in CAPS or CAPS-Plus.

For more information contact Hans Estrin, UVM Extension Produce Safety Specialist  at hestrin@uvm.edu, or phone/text: (802) 380-2109.

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