GAP Connection Integrates GAP Practices for Tobacco Growers

GAP Connection is a data base and computer program available to tobacco growers that was a much needed resource. Jane Starnes, with GAP Connections explains the origins of GAP Connections:

“When we started in tobacco, each company had their own program that they required their growers to go through. So growers with multiple contracts had multiple GAP programs to comply with. In 2012 the industry came together to find a better solution that will help the growers. There is a long list of groups that met regularly and came up with the US Tobacco GAP Program.”

The non-profit, GAP Connections was born out of the need to have an overseer of the program and literature says Starnes:

“During that we had some sustainability issues, who would continue to pay for these GAP manuals, the printing each year, decisions on educational requirements and addressing changes. We came up with the idea for this non profit entity. It’s a vehicle for industry collaboration to ensure the proper development, implementation and improvement of the GAP program.”

Starnes explains the program will keep track of a growers GAP training and additional certification hours for them:

“We have a grower ID system where each ones signs up and registers. At any training event their card will be scanned and we will keep track of that attendance.”

For now, and for the foreseeable future, participation in the program is free to tobacco growers:

“The industry has decided this will be provided at no cost to the growers. The original GAP manuals were from a grant and we printed over 12,000 of those. We will continue to provide benefits at no cost.”

If not already involved, Starnes outlines the sign-up process:

“Growers can visit  and the system will be up in the next few weeks. The manual is there as well.”

Jane Starnes with GAP Connections.'

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.