Good Agricultural Practices Manual

What is Good Agricultural Practices?

Good Agricultural Practices is a voluntary program that covers food safety practices at the farm. It offers a whole-farm approach covering all aspects of crop and livetock production.

Good Agricultural Practices can help you to:

  • Assess the risks of your daily farming practices
  • Minimize those risks
  • Customize a program for your individual farm
  • Streamline record-keeping and traceability requirements

Did you know?

There are many different national, international and provincial on-farm food safety programs available. Farmers in Ontario are encouraged to check with their marketing boards and buyers for specific on-farm food safety requirements.

How to use this manual

Every time you see in the manual it means that there is a great website you should check out. These sites have lots of good reference materials and more details about the information provided in each practice. A complete and up-to-date list of all websites mentioned in this binder can be found at:

Good Agricultural Practices is split into several sections:

  1. Identifying Your Risks
  2. Good Agricultural Practices
    • General Farm
    • Crops
    • Livestock and Poultry
  3. Training and Support Tools
1. Identifying Your Risks

A worksheet titled "What Applies to My Farm?" is supplied at the beginning of this section. This worksheet will assist you in keeping track of which good agricultural practices apply to your operation, which written practices and records are required, and which training needs should be addressed.

To help identify what applies to your farm, each good agricultural practice is associated with a risk identification flow chart that takes you through a series of yes/no questions. Each question will alert you to potential food safety risks on your farm. It requires that you pay close attention to all your farm's activities and all the areas where food is produced, handled, stored and shipped.

Depending on how you answer the question, the flow chart will either:

  • Tell you what your risk is
  • Direct you to the next question (this means that you already deal with that risk appropriately)

Answering the first question in each flow chart will help you figure out if the good agricultural practice applies to you. If it doesn't apply to you, move on to the next risk identification flow chart. If it does apply, check off the first column on the "What Applies to My Farm?" worksheet. The "Written practices needed" and "Records to keep" columns on the worksheet can be completed by reading the corresponding practice. If you have workers responsible for this practice, check off the "Training needed" column.

2. Good Agricultural Practices

Once you have completed the risk identification flow charts, you will know which good agricultural practices apply to you. Use these practices to address your risks, determine if written practices are needed and what records are to be kept. The good agricultural practices contain:

  • Laws and regulations that may apply
  • What needs to be done
  • How to do it
  • Records to keep
  • Helpful hints if you need an audit
  • Useful phone numbers
  • Interesting facts
3. Training and Support Tools

Under this section you will find advice on how to deliver effective training as identified on the "What Applies to My Farm" worksheet. We have also provided a how-to guide, templates, and examples for writing practices. These examples can be used as is or modified to suit your specific needs.

If the good agricultural practice identifies records to keep, you will find blank record templates in this section for your use. If you already have your own record-keeping system, feel free to continue using it. Just make sure you?are recording all the items listed in the template.

While this program remains voluntary, record keeping should be a part of your ongoing farming practices to help protect your operation and to show?due diligence.

Would you like to see some examples?

Sometimes it may be hard to fully understand the requirements of a good agricultural practice as it applies to your operation. In addition to the flow chart and "How to do it" sections of each practice, we have created a series of examples that detail how a specific commodity meets the requirements of the practice. These are available on our website:

See the legal disclaimer, authors, and acknowledgements

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
Author: OMAFRA Staff
Creation Date: 01 October 2008
Last Reviewed: 13 June 2016