The American Pecan Council’s Alexander Ott has been on the campaign trail across Georgia and other states promoting the new Quality Assurance Program developed by the American Pecan Council.
The APC’s executive director Alexander Ott recently visited our home state here in Georgia with a series of stops across the state to meet with growers to explain the new Voluntary Quality Assurance Program for American growers.
The Quality Assurance Program is designed to address four critical areas of pecan management practices.
- Food Safety and Quality
- Efficient Production and Resource Management
- Labor and Community
- Productivity and Economic Viability
So far i have heard mixed feedback from growers about the new voluntary program. Mr. Mike Adams has been a big supporter of the program from day zero, Mr. Adams has promoted the program in council meetings since nearly the beginning of the formation of the APC.
The concern I have heard has come largely from smaller growers like our farm. We are a small to medium size grower in our area with limited staff. Most of the “paper work” gets done in the evenings after a full days work on the farm. This has been the concern of smaller growers that I have heard, is the amount of time and paper work documentation that will be required to complete the requirements to comply with the program.
One fact to remember is that the program is voluntary, however, if enough growers opt to utilize the program, this could make it difficult for other growers to opt out, and still sell their pecans at a fair market price.
Another concern I have heard from growers is “what’s the benefit for me”. Some growers I have spoken with see this as beneficial for shellers and retailers to have available another marketing tool, but see this as only more paper work with possibly no benefit to them. Another grower mentioned the pecan imports and how this would affect imported pecans, as shellers and brokers import ever more pecans from Mexico and South Africa, how would these pecans be effected and would they be subject to the same standards at any point. I would think that imports would not be effected as this is a voluntary program currently.
I can not speak to the amount of time required for compliance as the program is new and I have had very little time to see what will actually be required of our farm to utilize the program and be in compliance.
The program does look well constructed and addresses major factors in the changing food industry. I have no doubt the program is well thought out, as Mr. Ott is quite experienced in the food safety and planning arena, having been working in food safety consulting with his own firm since 2007 with Ott & Davison Consulting LLC.
After I have had time to look through the program and address the cost associated with designing a plan for our farm I will be able to better convey how this program might work for a farm of our size.
For now be sure to keep an eye out for the APC tour and be sure to attend and ask questions about the new Voluntary Quality Assurance Program for the American Pecan Industry.