RIVERHEAD - Long Island farmers say a program designed to help local growers is actually hurting them.
Peapod, a home food delivery system run by Stop & Shop, has dropped several Long Island farms because they don't participate in Good Agricultural Practices, or GAP.
The strictly voluntary program is aimed at food safety, and includes audits that verify how produce is grown, handled and packaged.
Many Long Island farmers say they are barely hanging on and can’t afford all of the paperwork, auditing and monitoring involved in the program.
“Farmers here on Long Island are very conscious about food safety and they do a lot of the practices already in the GAP plan,” says Rob Carpenter, of the Long Island Farm Bureau. “The problem is the record keeping, which is an additional cost and an additional burden on them.”
A spokesperson for Peapod says they would love to buy produce from Long Island farmers, but says they won't buy the produce unless they enroll in the GAP program.