In 2015, HGM identified a need to develop quality and operating standards to ensure the sector as a whole met the current and future requirements of craft brewer customers. In 2016, USDA SCBG grant funding was secured for a two-year project to define the required growing and processing standards.
This project will establish for the first time in Michigan a quality system specific to hops that includes:
- Recommended Operating Procedures to insure food quality and safety, broken down into three areas: a) field/hopyard (IPM and spray records), b) harvest (pick-dry-bale-storage), and c) processing (pelletize-package-storage)
- An education program that will train farm owners and employees to use the recommended operating procedures and help prepare them for the verification program.
- A two-level voluntary verification program, level 1) a self-audit, and level 2) an HGM sanctioned third party verification.
Currently (Summer 2017) the project offers several DRAFT documents for use by Michigan hop growers and processor to aid them in addressing their quality and food safety operating practices. The project team is validating these guides and checklists in 2017, and will revise as needed before finalizing for the 2018 season.