CFSA's Grower's Toolbox
Dear Nahid,

We've been able to enjoy some rare wintery weather this year, with snow falling for three weekends in January in the Piedmont of North Carolina. Signs of spring are creeping in, though, with warmer days slowly approaching.

This means there is precious little time left to plan for the upcoming growing season! If your strategy this year includes GAP certification, we've prepared a list of what steps you need to take in this month's expert tip (below). Our events calendar is also filling up with new webinars to help you all have the best growing season you can. It's also an opportune time to apply for consultation services from our Farm Services team on a variety of topics: market access, GAP certification, high tunnels, Conservation Activity Plans, or organic certification.

Wishing everyone a great start to the early spring season!

Chloe's headshotCheers,

Chloe Johnson, CFSA Local Produce Safety Manager
Hillsborough, North Carolina

Have questions on organic certification?
(Expert Tip) Get A Head Start on This Year’s GAP Certification To-Do List

The beginning of the calendar year is the best time to prepare for your GAP audit, even if you don’t get audited until the fall. Below we go through some of the initial annual steps you need to take for a successful and stress-free audit.

First, get on the auditor’s calendar! Do this as early as possible, as auditor’s calendars fill up by mid-spring. You can move your audit date as needed as you get closer to it. Go to the USDA’s website to find Form SC-237A. Fill it out and return it to Dana Odom ( in North Carolina and directly to the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Inspections and Auditing Program ( if you are in South Carolina.

Read on for tips on getting started, including how to choose an audit date.
Germicidal Bleach Use on Produce Farms in Produce Wash Water
Clorox sells multiple products under multiple labels. Clorox Pro Germicidal Bleach (EPA # 67619-32) is one of their products approved for fruit and vegetable washing and was available for purchase at the big box stores. Many are now having trouble finding it.

We are finding Clorox Germicidal Bleach (EPA Reg. # 5813-121), but the label does not list fruit and vegetable washing as one of its uses.

Please check your EPA registration numbers! If you use bleach as an antimicrobial in your produce wash water, be sure to check the EPA registration number to ensure its allowable use includes produce wash water treatment. 

Please read your labels carefully! Check your labels, and be sure to use chemicals as the label intends. Other antimicrobial products are also available and formulated explicitly for agricultural use and approved for produce wash water treatment: SaniDate 5.0, Agchlor, Bioside HS 15% are a few alternatives.

Coming Soon: A collaborative crowdsourcing project intended to help reduce bleach confusion. Stay tuned.

As always, don't hesitate to contact CFSA's food safety team for advice on your post-harvest operations should you have questions!
Contact CFSA's food safety team
2022 Detections of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza
For farmers with poultry, please be aware of the recent Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak in wild birds. Watch your flocks for any appearing sick!

Thanks to CFSA member Glenn Murphey of M&M Farm in Trenton, SC, for sending out this link on the SC CFSA listserv.
Register for CFSA's Spring Grower-Buyer Meetup

A farmer talking to two buyers as one holds a basil plant
Photo Credit: Stacey Sprenz

We're hosting a virtual Grower-Buyer Meetup on April 13, from 10-11:30 a.m.!

The Grower-Buyer Meetup is a networking event designed for farmers and ranchers who are interested in accessing wholesale market channels. During this 90-minute session, you will get the chance to meet virtually with wholesalers from all over the Carolinas. The meetup is an ideal opportunity to build relationships with potential buyers, make inquiries about their requirements, and learn about market trends and what is in demand. 

Want to attend? Please complete the Grower Questionnaire to register.
SCATE Card – South Carolina Agriculture Sales Tax Exemption Card
The SC Department of Agriculture and the SC Department of Revenue joined forces and created the SCATE card as a handy way to allow SC farmers to show their eligibility for certain sales tax exemptions relating to their agriculture production.

The card replaces the ST-8F paper form and will make it easier for both farmers and retailers. Nothing has changed regarding the sales tax laws; they are just rolling out the card. Please note the paper form will no longer be honored after April 1, 2022. After applying for and receiving your card, it will expire three years from the issue date.

To apply, you will need:
  • A tax ID number (Social Security or Federal Employer Identification Number)
  • A valid email address
  • A credit card or checking account number to pay the $24 fee for the card.
Want on-site food safety training for your farm?
Upcoming Events
from CFSA's events calendar
Feb. 28 | Virtual

Navigating the GAP Audit - Part 4
Mar. 2 | Virtual

High Tunnel Purchasing & Construction
Mar. 2 | Concord, NC

Navigating the GAP Audit - Part 5
Mar. 7 | Virtual

Carolina High Tunnel Meetup
Mar. 8 | Virtual

Good Manufacturing Practices for Small-Scale Farms & Food Businesses Making Low-Risk Foods
Mar. 11 | Virtual

Organic Growers School Spring Conference & Market
Mar. 18-20 | Mars Hill, NC
CFSA Speakers: Mark Dempsey, Soils 101; Angie Lavezzo, Holistic Gardening

Grafting Tomatoes for High Tunnel & Field Production
Mar. 30 | Lansing, NC

Grower-Buyer Meetup
Apr. 13 | Virtual

Farmer Resource Workshop
Apr. 20 | Spartanburg, SC

Lomax Spring Plant Sale
Apr. 23 | Concord, NC

25th Piedmont Farm Tour - Save the date! 
Apr. 23-24 | 33 farms across the Piedmont, NC
Registration coming soon! 
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The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association is on a mission to bring local, organic food to your table from a farmer who shares your values – and we can’t do it without you. Together we are building a regional food system that is good for consumers, growers, and the land.
Copyright © 2022 Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, All rights reserved.

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