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Update 18 March 2024: Please note that this consultation is now closed.


GFSI is opening a new stakeholder consultation today for the Technical Equivalence Programme, USDA AMS Harmonized GAP Plus+ version 4.0, issued on 1st July 2022. The deadline for consultation responses is 16th March 2024.

The Technical Equivalence programme is destined to benchmark government-owned standards against GFSI Benchmarking requirements Part III. Where those requirements are fulfilled, the relevant standard is granted Technical Equivalence to acknowledge alignment of the given standard’s content to the relevant scope(s) of the GFSI Benchmarking Requirements Part III. Unlike GFSI recognition, Technical Equivalence does not include the assessment of the programme’s governance or protocols for operational delivery .

About the USDA AMS Harmonized GAP Plus+ version 4.0 Standard

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) administers programmes that create domestic and international marketing opportunities for U.S. producers of food, fiber, and specialty crops. AMS also provides the agriculture industry with valuable services to ensure the quality and availability of wholesome food for consumers across the country and around the world. The Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS) is responsible for the management and oversight of the USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) Program. The Harmonized GAP Plus+ version 4.0 standard was built on the concepts of risk identification, control and mitigation of risks, monitoring, verification, and documentation. It mirrors the Codex Alimentarius Principles of HACCP. Requirements of the USDA Harmonized GAP Plus+ version 4.0 standard reference adherence to “current industry practices”, “regulatory requirements”, and “prevailing regulations” – these may include, but are not limited to, the Food and Drug Administration Produce and & Plant Products.

The Technical Equivalence assessment process is encompassing GFSI scopes:

  • BI – Farming of Plants (other than grains and pulses)
  • BIII – Pre-process handling of plant products

Based on the outcomes of the last public consultation from April 2022 on Technical Equivalence, the GFSI steering committee has decided on a new strategic direction for the future of the Technical Equivalence programme. More information to come in the coming weeks!

Why a stakeholder consultation?

This important step of the assessment process ensures its transparency and robustness, inviting interested stakeholders to review and comment on the assessment carried out by GFSI and their independent Benchmark Leaders.


How to get involved?

To participate, download the consultation documents and email your questions and comments from now till 16th March 2024.

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