Our sustainability principles
Certified farms operate an environmental and social management system according to the complexity of their operations and in conformance with applicable local laws. The farms record their energy usage, making efforts to reduce it and use more renewable energy.
Farmers must conserve existing ecosystems and aid in the restoration of critical areas. They achieve this by taking steps to protect waterways and wetlands from erosion and contamination, prohibiting logging and other deforestation, and maintaining vegetation barriers.
The hunting of wild animals is prohibited on certified farms, as is the keeping of wild animals in captivity and the extraction of wild plants.
Certified farms conduct activities to conserve water and avoid wasting this resource. Farms prevent contamination of surface and underground water by treating and monitoring waste-water.
Farms employees are treated with respect and in accordance with the main conventions of the International Labor Organization. They are paid a legal minimum wage and have access to education and healthcare services. Minors under 15 years of age or the age established by local law are not contracted.
Certified farms have occupational health and safety programs to reduce the risk of accidents and to support the health of workers exposed to hazardous activities such as the operation of machinery or the application of authorized pesticides.
Certified farms are good neighbors in their communities. They inform the surrounding communities and local stakeholder groups about their activities and plans. They discuss the potential impacts of their activities and contribute to local development through employment, training and public works.
The SAN seeks the improvement of soils over the long term, which is why certified farms use organic fertilizers, propagate ground cover vegetation and plant natural barriers to reduce erosion and runoff of sediments to rivers, streams and lakes. Fire is never used to prepare new plots for production.
Integrated crop management
Certified farms monitor crop pests and use biological or mechanical methods for pest control as a first choice. If the pests cause considerable economic damage, certain pesticides can be used but only by applying them using every possible safeguard for the protection of the workers, the communities and the environment.Transgenic crops (genetically modified organisms) are not grown or introduced on certified farms.
Integrated Waste Management
Certified farms are aware of the types and quantities of wastes they generate. Wastes are managed through programs for recycling, reducing consumption and reuse. Wastes are sorted, treated and disposed of in ways that minimize environmental and health impacts for the workers and the communities. Farms are aware of their greenhouse gas emissions and how to reduce their carbon footprint.
Types of standards and policies
The SAN has the following types of standards and policies that complement the Sustainable Agriculture Standard. All of these documents can be found in our library.
Farm certification: Involves the environmental, social, labor and agronomic management of individual farms.
- Sustainable Agriculture
- Livestock Production
Certification of groups: Applies to groups of producers such as associations, cooperatives and federations. The objective of group certification is to make it accessible to farmers that do not have the capacity to become certified on an individual basis.
Chain of Custody: Criteria and processes for supporting the traceability of the products from the farm to the end product.
Climate Module: Specific set of voluntary criteria for climate change adaptation and mitigation that strengthen existing certification criteria and provide added value.
Local Indicators or Interpretation Guidelines: Define how the general sustainable agriculture standard is interpreted and applied to particular crop and country situations.
Means of Verification: Detail the elements of compliance for criteria in audits.In each country with certification activities, they also consider applicable environmental, social and labor legislation.
Certification Policy: Description of general certification requirements, for the crops and authorized activities, the scope of the certification and related auditing procedures.
Chain of Custody Policy: Guidelines for achieving chain of custody certification..
List of prohibited agrochemicals and pesticides: Substances that cannot be used on the farms due to their impacts on health and the environment.
How are our standards developed?
The process for the development of the SAN Sustainable Agriculture Standards is long and detailed, involving many technical and civil society stakeholders.
The SAN Standards are updated at least every five years using a general Public Consultation process involving producers and industries, consumers, other NGOs, academic bodies, auditors, trade unions and governments.
Our standards must be of high quality and have wide credibility, therefore their development complies with the Codes of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards of the International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labeling (ISEAL) Alliance.
ISEAL is an association of leading voluntary organizations for the development of standards and compliance assessment, which focuses on environmental and social issues. Its members collaborate to obtain recognition, continuing improvement and international legitimacy for their programs,which aim to promote the interests of workers, communities and the environment in the international market.
The transparency and robustness of the processes to develop the SAN standards is ensured through two committees of international experts that make decisions on the content of the standards, making revisions and updates, advising the public consultation processes and evaluating the rules that govern the operations of the system.
In short, they ensure that the standards and policies are designed and maintained for their efficient application; these working groups are the International Standards Committee (ISC) and the Technical Operations Committee (TOC).