Policies and Procedures

VVBGA’s Community Accreditation for Produce Safety (CAPS)

Policies, Roles and Procedures

12/1/2015 Draft  VG and HE

Purpose of program:  To promote a practical approach to reducing food safety risks while maintaining market integrity for Vermont’s small to medium-scale vegetable and berry farms.

Rationale: GAPs (Good Agricultural Practices) and FSMA (Food Safety Modernization Act) were developed to address concerns about food safety risks associated with production of fresh produce, but these programs were not designed for the scale of farms that characterize Vermont. The state’s relatively small and diverse farms need a practical, credible program to meet their needs.

UVM Extension will work with the Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers Association (VVBGA) to develop a community-based accreditation for produce safety (CAPS) program for its member farms. The VVBGA will offer the accreditation solely for its members.

Roles and Procedures Approved by the Board November 16, 2015


  • VVBGA Board of Directors (BOD) – has authority over CAPS program.
  • VVBGA Community Accreditation for Produce Safety Advisers (CAPS Advisers)—6-10 people, mostly are BOD members, plus reps from VAAFM, Extension, and a buyer.
  • VVBGA CAPS Coordinator –Currently a UVM Extension employee; could be VVBGA or VAAFM employee in the future? (With transition support from Extension.)
  • CAPS Applicants—VVBGA member farmers that voluntarily seek CAPS accreditation.

Procedures for 2016 CAPS:

  1. BOD grants authority to CAPS Advisers, led by CAPS Coordinator, to administer the CAPS accreditation process, scoring applications and accrediting or declining applicants based on standardized scoring
  2. CAPS applicants voluntarily enroll in VVBGA CAPS in early spring, create an account on-line and pay nominal fee (**$100 average–see below).
  3. CAPS Applicants the agree to VBBGA CAPS Terms and Conditions stating that they are honestly reporting, that they will not represent accreditation as a guarantee of food safety, and that they will abide by the accreditation process and agree to the results.
  4. The CAPS BOD will be covered by Directors and Officers liability insurance for non-profits from Feb 1, 2015 and forward (insurance from Travelers Excess and Surplus Lines Company).
  5. The CAPS Coordinator reviews and approves food safety plans by late spring (May).
  6. CAPS Advisers review all complete CAPS applications (documentation) by late November. At least two CAPS advisers will review each application.
  7. If a CAPS application appears to be incomplete or insufficient for accreditation, the coordinator notifies the applicant that they have three weeks to make needed changes.
  8. CAPS Advisers submit a CAPS Annual Report to the BOD in December, with program statistics and list of farms approved/denied accreditation.
  9. Before CAPS accreditation decisions go public, BOD has a chance to review, ask questions and if the information warrants, change accreditation decisions.
  10. BOD has ultimate responsibility for CAPS and therefore can, by majority vote, address any issues or change any process of the CAPS program, to serve the best interest of the VVBGA.

***CAPS fee: Paying a fee shows funders that CAPS has value to growers / adds value in the marketplace. It also lays the groundwork for program sustainability. Should this be a flat fee, or a sliding-scale fee? The board has approved and average fee of $100/farm/year for 2016 CAPS accreditation. We will also consider a small fee for just review and approval of produce safety plan

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