Frequently Asked Questions about GAPC Tobacco Certification

1. Do I have to become GAPC Tobacco Certified? Is participation required?

The GAPC Tobacco Certification Program is voluntary. GAPC does not have any requriement that a GAPC member has to particiate. It is your decision to participate or not.

If your company has specific requirements in regards to your participation please speak to them directly.

2. Why should I become GAPC Certified?

GAPC Tobacco Certification offers a way for you to be distinguished in the marketplace for your compliance with best practices in crop, environmental, and labor management. GAPC Tobacco Certification offers companies who choose to contract with you assurance that good agricultural practices are being used, workers have avenues to report concerns, and a safe working environment is being promoted.

3. I've attended training, does that make me GAPC Certified?

Attending annual GAP training is not the same as being a Certified grower. 

4. What is the difference in the US and International Certification?

US Certification is aligned with U.S. labor laws and requirements.  International Certification is aligned with international labor laws and requirements. If you review the standards, you will find that the standards are the same for Crop and Environment sections but there are differences in the Labor section regarding the minimum age for workers and the tasks they can complete. A grower should talk with their tobacco company about which Certification Program would align with their policies.

5. What is a FSA 578 form?

The FSA 578 report is a crop acreage record of crops grown each crop year on a farm. It is filed annually with the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and is used by producers to document all crops and intended uses. It is free to file and any farm operator, owner or producer with a share interest in crop acreage on the farm may file an acreage report.

6. Why is a FSA 578 required in the GAPC Tobacco Certification Program?

The FSA 578 is required for traceability reasons. The FSA 578 could provide evidence that a grower is in fact growing a tobacco crop and the reported acreage that is given in the application on their farm. 

 7. What are the costs associated with the program?

Application and Administrative Fees are as follows for applications: 

Online Application: $150 

Paper Application (via mail or fax): $200

Each Associated Grower listed on Application: $150  

Please note that these charges are only charged once the application is approved. If an application is denied the grower will not be charged.

Monitoring costs are dependent on several factors including the firm you choose to conduct them, the amount of remediation you may have and the location of the farm. If there are a number of other growers in the same area having a Certification Audit you may be able to work as a group to negotiate a lower price. Please see the GAPC Compliance Guide for details on costs of audit firms.

8. Who can I list as an Associated Grower on my application?

All the below criteria must be met in order include the Associated Grower on the Certification application:

  1. The Associated Grower must currently be a GAPC Grower Member.
  2. The Associated Grower must be a family member of the Primary Grower or in a legal, verified business entity (see Entity Determination Documentation List). Family is defined as spouse, children, stepchildren, foster children, parents, stepparents, foster parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins, grandparents, and grandchildren (In-laws are included).
  3. The Associated Grower’s name must be listed on a 578(s) attached to Certification application.
  4. The Associated Grower must share the same labor force, whether family or hired, with you. Specifically, the same labor force must work in all fields and be hired and paid by the same person or entity for all work. If the labor is paid from separate accounts, the individuals or entities cannot be an Associated Grower.
  5. All the decisions about management of fields farmed by the GAPC Grower Member and Associated Grower must be made jointly, i.e. there are not designated fields for each individual in which that grower makes separate management decisions. There are one set of records detailing the management of the crop and labor force that will be verified at the monitoring visit.
  6. The Associated Grower must be involved in the day-to-day management of the tobacco crop. This includes making management decisions about how the crop is grown and managing labor which works in the crop. If the individual is only providing financial support for the operation and tobacco crop, they are not considered an Associated Grower. 

Please note sharing labor ONLY is not enough to qualify for an association.

9. If I add an Associated Grower to the application, what do they need to do?

After an application is submitted and approved, all Associated Growers will need to sign-in to the Grower ID system at and accept the Terms and Conditions. Beyond the Terms and Conditions, associated growers will need to attend annual GAP training, help ensure compliance with all GAPC Certification Standards and requirements, and sign the monitoring form when there is a monitoirng visit.


10. Who are the monitoring firms and how do we contact them?

Please see the GAPC Compliance Guide for the list of approved monitoring firms and details on costs of audit firms.

11. How to I choose a monitoring firm? 

Monitoring firms are choosen at the time of application. You will be placed on the monitoring firm’s contact list and they will contact you to schedule the Monitoring Visit according to their scheduling policy.

12. How much time will the audit take?

The GAPC Certification audit will on average take between 2-3 hours. The length of time the audit takes primarily hinges on the number of employee interviews and how organized the records are that will be reviewed. A grower can decrease the time of the audit and increase the efficiency greatly by having everything together in one central location for the auditor to review.

13. Is the GAPC Tobacco Certification Audit similar to the GAPC Assessments we have had in the past?

Yes, it is very similar. The differences include:

  • Some additional questions aligned with new standards.
  • Required worker interviews for all those who hire any non-family labor.
  • Growers receive the questions ahead of time, a detailed report and score after the audit, and, if there are any areas of non-compliance, a chance for most of them to be fixed within 30 days.

14. What tobacco companies are supporting the GAPC Tobacco Certification Program?

The GAPC Tobacco Certification Program has the support of many tobacco companies who want U.S. tobacco growers to be recognized for not only the quality of their tobacco but their compliance efforts on their operation. Growers should talk to their individual companies about how specifically their company may be supporting the program.

15. How do I get started and what are the next steps in the application process?

If you are interested in applying for the GAPC Tobacco Certification Program you can apply online at Sign in using your Grower ID and password.  Go to Certification and Apply on the Grower Dashboard. If you would like a paper application, please call the GAPC Connections office at 865.622.4606. Please note that paper applications are $50 more than completing an application online.