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    Agriculture Deputy Secretary Dr. Kathleen Merrigan listens to questions posed by audience members about the On-Farm Food Safety Project Tool. Deputy Secretary Merrigan and leaders from agriculture and food organizations introduced the free online tool to assist U.S. producers of all sizes achieve Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), helping to further expand economic opportunities for American agriculture at the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, December 15, 2011. USDA’s GAP audit verification program focuses on best agricultural practices to verify that farms are producing, and packers are handling and storing, fruits and vegetables in the safest manner to minimize food safety hazards. The online tool, part of FamilyFarmed.org’s On-Farm Food Safety Project, is the first of its kind and was developed by a broad coalition of farm and produce industry partners with lead funding from the USDA Risk Management Agency. It is available at www.onfarmfoodsafety.org. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

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