COLUMN: GAP Connections launches website and grower ID system

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By Bryce Roberts

GAP Connections , a nonprofit aiming to create awareness and cultivate positive environmental and social impact through good agricultural practices in the tobacco industry, has announced the launch of a new website and online Grower ID system. The website provides a resource for tobacco farmers and other interested parties to learn about the organization’s initiatives, as well as a way for farmers to sign up for the Grower ID System. GAP Connections offers a streamlined approach to free farmers from overlapping their efforts through the U.S. Tobacco GAP Program, supplying them with simple procedures that are coordinated with industry buyers and manufacturers.
The Grower ID System provides a secure and easy way for tobacco farmers to document and share their good agricultural practices training associated with the U.S. Tobacco GAP Program. Through the Grower ID System, growers will be assigned a unique Grower ID number that will be used to track GAP training attendance and generate an electronic record of that attendance that can be shared with companies that purchase their tobacco and need to verify that the crop was grown using good agricultural practices. Use of the Grower ID System to document training will greatly simplify documentation of training compared to the former system of paper certificates kept by the farmer.
“We’re trying to ensure sustainable, economically viable production of usable tobacco, using guidelines for agricultural practice to help growers produce a quality crop through sustainable practices,” said Jane Starnes, acting Director of GAP Connections. “The Grower ID System further streamlines that by giving tobacco farmers a secure and easily accessible place to keep all of their training records.”
When growers register online in the ID system, they will receive their unique grower ID number and Grower ID card. The Grower ID card will be scanned at training meetings starting this year. This system will provide an immediate record of their training that, with the permission of the farmers, will be made available to participating companies that buy their tobacco. Registered farmers can also use their Grower ID number to log into the Grower ID System at www.gapconnections.com to view and print their training records at any time.
Tobacco farmers benefit from registering for the Grower ID System in several ways, including the following:
• Online access to their grower profile and GAP training history
• Grower ID card to scan at GAP trainings to track attendance
• Easy sharing of GAP efforts with one or multiple member companies
In addition to access to the Grower ID system the website provides numerous resources aimed at helping tobacco farmers follow the guidelines of the U.S. Tobacco GAP Program, including a downloadable copy of the existing program’s guidelines and recordkeeping checklist and templates.
GAP Connections is funded by tobacco purchasing groups and others with interest in the production of U.S. tobacco. Programs promoting Good Agricultural Practices are delivered through partnerships between GAP Connections and university Extension services in most of the tobacco-producing states. GAP Connections centers on facilitating educational opportunities to tobacco farmers about crop production, managing land use, protecting the environment, maintaining a safe environment for their laborers, and more.
“By creating a centralized source for information and collaboration between growers and manufacturers, we hope to create transparency and confidence in agricultural practices,” said Starnes. “Our aim is for the GAP Connections website and Grower ID System to simplify and standardize record-keeping for growers and give manufacturers confidence that they are receiving a quality product grown with good agricultural practices.”
If you do not have internet access, feel free to stop by our office. We can get you registered in the GAP System and provide you with a temporary card. It is requested that you obtain your card before you attend any GAP trainings.
There will be a Tobacco GAP Training session on February 21 at the Shelby Co. Extension Office at 10 a.m. Please call their office at 633-4593 to register.
Feel free to contact me at your Spencer County Cooperative Extension Service at 477-2217 or you can email me at broberts@uky.edu. You can visit the Spencer County Extension Services’ website at www.spencerextension.com.

Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.