2018 Weekly Tips and Advice on GAPC Certification
Frequently Asked Questions about GAPC Certification
1. Do I have to become GAPC Certified? Is participation required?
The GAPC Certification Program is voluntary. It is your decision to participate or not.
2. Why should I become GAPC Certified?
GAPC Certification offers a way for you to be distinguished in the marketplace for your compliance with best practices in crop, environmental, and labor management. GAPC Certification offers companies who choose to contract with you assurance that good agricultural practices are being used, workers have avenues to report concerns, and a safe working environment is being promoted.
3. What is the difference in the US and International Certification?
US Certification is aligned with U.S. labor laws and requirements. International Certification is aligned with international labor laws and requirements. If you review the standards, you will find that the standards are the same for Crop and Environment sections but there are differences in the Labor section regarding the minimum age for workers and the tasks they can complete. A grower should talk with their tobacco company about which Certification Program would align with their policies.
4. What is a FSA 578 form?
The FSA 578 report is a crop acreage record of crops grown each crop year on a farm. It is filed annually with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and is used by producers to document all crops and intended uses. It is free to file and any farm operator, owner or producer with a share interest in crop acreage on the farm may file an acreage report.
5. Why is a FSA 578 required in the GAPC Certification Program?
The FSA 578 is required for traceability reasons. The FSA 578 could provide evidence that a grower is in fact growing the reported acreage that is given in the application on their farm.
6. How do I submit my FSA 578 form?
If you submit your application online there is a place to upload the 578(s). If you do not have your 578(s) electronically or you are submitting your application on paper you can send your 578(s) by mail to GAP Connections, 2450 E.J. Chapman Drive, Knoxville, TN 37996 or by fax to 865-622-4550.
7. What are the costs associated with the program?
Application and Administrative Fees each year are as follows:
Year 1: $150*
Year 2: $100* (renewal)
Year 3: $100* (renewal)
*$50 for each additional associated grower
Please note that these charges are only charged once the application is approved. If an application is denied the grower will not be charged.
Monitoring costs are dependent on several factors including the firm you choose to conduct them, the amount of remediation you may have and the location of the farm. If there are a number of other growers in the same area having a Certification Audit you may be able to work as a group to negotiate a lower price. Below are the best estimated ranges for the average farm:
Year 1: Audit* ($525 - $650 based on firm)
Year 2: Site Visit* ($275-$450 based on firm)
Year 3: Desktop Review* ($150-$350 based on firm)
*Remediation as needed ($150-$750 as needed)
8. Who can I list as an Associated Grower on my application?
To associate another Grower Member with your farm operation (an “Associated Grower”) the following criteria have to be met:
- The Associated Grower must currently be a GAPC Grower Member
- The Associated Grower must share the same labor force, whether family or hired, with you. Specifically, the same labor force must work in all fields and be hired and paid by the same person or entity for all work.
- All the decisions about management of fields farmed by the GAPC Grower Member and Associated Grower must be made jointly, i.e. there are not designated fields for each individual in which that grower makes separate management decisions nor are there separate GAP records detailing these management decisions.
Please note sharing labor ONLY is not enough to qualify for an association.
9. If I add an associated grower to the application, what do they need to do?
After an application is submitted and approved, all associated growers will need to sign-in to the Grower ID system at www.gapconnections.com and accept the Terms and Conditions. Beyond the Terms and Conditions, associated growers will need to attend annual GAP training and help ensure compliance with all GAPC Certification Standards and requirements.
10.What happens in year 4? Is there another application fee?
The Certification process begins again in Year 4 with a repeat Certification Audit. There will be a renewal fee just like in Year 2 and Year 3. This renewal fee covers the cost of processes such as review of 578’s, collecting labor information, managing data releases and data, training auditors and other administrative duties associated with the program.
11.Who are the audit companies and how do we contact them?
In 2018, there are two auditing firms that will be able to provide a GAPC Certification Audit. These are UL Responsible Sourcing and ARCHE Advisors. Both of these firms have conducted tobacco assessments for several years. Their contact information and pricing schedule will be sent to growers along an audit checklist once a grower’s application has been approved.
12.Will there be enough time to secure an audit company before the deadline?
Yes, if you get your application in before March 25th it should allow enough time for GAPC to approve the application and for the grower to receive the contact information for the audit firms. Audit firms must be contacted by April 1 to be guaranteed to receive the pricing they have presented.
13.How much time will the audit take?
The GAPC Certification audit will on average take between 2-3 hours. The length of time the audit takes primarily hinges on the number of employee interviews and how organized the records are that will be reviewed. A grower can decrease the time of the audit and increase the efficiency greatly by having everything together in one central location for the auditor to review.
14. Is the GAPC Certification Audit similar to the GAPC Assessments we have had in the past?
Yes, it is very similar. The differences include:
- Some additional questions aligned with new standards for 2018.
- Required worker interviews for all those who hire any non-family labor.
- Growers receive the questions ahead of time, a detailed report and score after the audit, and, if there are any areas of non-compliance, a chance for most of them to be fixed within four weeks.
15.What tobacco companies are supporting the GAPC Certification Program?
The GAPC Certification Program has the support of many tobacco companies who want U.S. tobacco growers to be recognized for not only the quality of their tobacco but their compliance efforts on their operation. Growers should talk to their individual companies about how specifically their company may be supporting the program.
16. How do I get started and what are the next steps in the application process?
If you are interested in applying for the GAPC Certification Program you can apply online at www.gapconnections.com. Choose the menu item “Growers” then “Apply for Certification.” If you would like a paper application and did not pick one up at the GAP Training you attended, please call the GAPC Connections’ office at 865.622.4606.