JULY 10, 2006 - Posted at 2:46 p.m. CDT
FORREST CITY, AR - Six Arkansas vegetable farms are hoping to earn passing grades from USDA inspectors this week. If they do, new markets should open for them soon.
In October, the USDA awarded a $265,000 grant to the Arkansas Land and Farm Development Corporation to coordinate the current project. That non-profit group picked six top farmers, who formed Forrest City-based American Heartland Produce, Inc.
The farmers have been trained based on the USDA's audit verification program, a nationwide initiative that verifies whether the FDA's food safety guidelines are being followed. If the six Arkansas vegetables farms pass inspection, they get a one-year certificate and can start selling produce with the "American Heartland" logo.
American Heartland wants to become synonymous with vegetables the way Sunkist is with oranges.