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Getting and Staying Certified: The Three Stages of the G.A.P. Certification Cycle

G.A.P. Certification: 3 Stages

I’ve had my audit…now what?

If you are new to the G.A.P. program, you may have done some work preparing for your first audit. After the Auditor leaves, you may be wondering what to expect next. We have broken down the next fifteen months into three stages to help you understand what to expect and how to be prepared to maintain continuous G.A.P. certification.

1. Initial Audit

While onsite, the Auditor will assess your farm/ranch and record your farm/ranch details in a document (called the audit form) that is submitted to a Reviewer. The Reviewer is the person at the third-party certifier who decides compliance and issues a certificate. While the Auditor does conduct an exit interview that gives you a list of non-conformances, this list may change based on decisions by the Reviewer.

During the review process, the Reviewer may contact you, requesting additional information or corrective actions to be performed and documented. Once the Reviewer has all the information they need from you and has reviewed all relevant information from the Auditor, they will decide whether to certify your farm/ranch. If you are certified, you will receive your certificate and audit report by email, unless you request them to be mailed.

2. Maintaining G.A.P. Certification

After the Auditor leaves, your daily management practices should be maintained to the G.A.P. standards for the next 15 months, when your next audit will happen – this includes any adjustments to your management practices identified during the certification process. Your selected Certifier or G.A.P. can be contacted throughout your certification cycle if you have questions or need assistance with any problems.

If you make any major changes to your farm/ranch during your certification, you will need to contact your Certifier prior to ensure they’re aware of the changes as this can impact your certification. ‘Major changes’ include things like change in ownership, change in animal sourcing, adding new buildings/barns, or adding new locations.

3. Renewal Notice and Re-audits

Around four months before your certificate expires, your Certifier will send you a renewal notification. At this time, you will need to submit an application with any updates to your farm/ranch, and then work with the Certifier to set an audit date. In order to maintain continuous certification, your audit will need to be conducted approximately four to eight weeks prior the certification expiry, also allowing you and your Certifier time to schedule your renewal audit so there will be animals onsite.

Once you have scheduled the G.A.P. certification audit, start to get organized for your audit – check out the prep tool resources on the species pages of our website – they can be a great resource to help you get ready.