MIFFS administers the Michigan GroupGAP Network (MGGN) which was created through a collaborative partnership with the Marquette Food Co-op, The UP Food Exchange, Michigan State University Extension, MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and the United States Department of Agriculture. MGGN developed as a result of The Michigan GroupGAP pilot, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where stakeholders investigated group food safety certification as a scale-neutral, cost effective alternative to individual certification. It provides producers a strong safety net or technical support and resources to ensure the success of participants.
GroupGAP is a group of partners working together to achieve a collective Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Certification. These partners can be farmers, buyers, distributors, food hubs, local non-profits, etc. First, the group provides internal verification that its members are meeting GAP standards by performing internal audits. These activities are managed through a Quality Management System (QMS). Next, the USDA then audits a statistical sample of the members, and audits the group’s QMS. Finally if the farms audited and the system are in compliance with GAP, that provides USDA enough confidence to issue the entire group a USDA GAP certification.