Part 3 of 3 parts for Week of May 22
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General Description of the Food
This is an organization that is attempting to create an alternative market from organic. It has created standards that are IPM focused, combined with environmental aspects and fair human labor conditions. It is seeking markets to demand this certification and offering a labeling service to growers. Please read on if you find this intriguing. For a complete version of this info please go to: http://www.foodalliance.org/certification/index.html
1. Verify an operation’s fulfillment of Food Alliance’s fixed standards.
2. Verify an operation’s fulfillment of Food Alliance’s scored standards.
3. Provide notes to Food Alliance staff concerning innovative and otherwise noteworthy actions taken by applicants.
Fixed standards provide the first level of screening for acceptance into the Food Alliance certification program. As all fixed standards must be adhered to, certification is not an option for operations that are not in compliance with the following:
1. No use of genetically modified seed varieties or livestock breeds.
2. No use of hormones or feed additive (sub therapeutic) antibiotics in livestock production.
3. Continual improvement of management and production practices.
4. No use of high toxicity pesticides included on prohibited list (See Page 16 )
Organic growers already comply with
these “Fixed standards.”
Organic growers already comply with these “Fixed standards.”
Whole Farm Standards: Applicants must score an average of level 3.0 (out of 4) in a set of evaluation criteria in each of the following four subject areas:
1. Reduction of pesticide usage
2. Soil and water conservation
3. Safe and fair working conditions This is probably the only “Scored Standard” an organic grower may need to address.
4. Wildlife habitat conservation
Crop-specific Standards: Crop-specific standards also consist of scored evaluation criteria, but relate more specifically to the cultural practices, crop nutrition, and insect/disease/weed management on the particular crops for which an applicant is interested in seeking Food Alliance certification.
Whole Farm and Crop Specific scored standards are described in detail in the subsequent sections of this document.
The certification process begins when Food Alliance receives a completed application packet from a new or renewing applicant. At that time Food Alliance staff review the application packet for completeness, ensuring that: all questions are answered; all required signatures are made; the application fee is paid; and all supporting documents are present.
If all items are present, Food Alliance will send your application onto an independent site inspector who will contact you to set up an on-site inspection date. During the site inspection, the site inspector will interview the managers and workers, tour the fields and facilities, and look through all employment and production records relevant to the standards.
After the site visit, the site inspector submits a report to Food Alliance detailing findings based on the certification criteria set by Food Alliance. Site inspectors use forms created by Food Alliance to guide the inspection process and for reporting (for more about site inspectors, see qualifications below).
Once Food Alliance receives the inspection documents from the site inspector, the applicant is sent a letter regarding the status of their application for Food Alliance certification. This letter is accompanied by an official site report, detailing the scores the applicant received in each of the evaluation criteria.
If applicants feel that the site inspector’s findings are unfair or inaccurate, they may submit a request for re-evaluation to Food Alliance. A request must be made in writing within 30 days of receiving the official site report, detailing the perceived inaccuracies of the site inspection. Applicants should also state whether or not they would like to be inspected by a different site inspector. Re-inspections of this nature will be provided at no cost to the applicant. No further appeals will be accepted, however, an applicant may reapply after they have made changes to their operation as suggested in their site report.
If an operation passes inspection, the term of certification is three years from the official start date. The official start date will be stated in the certification letter along with the products that may be labeled as Food Alliance certified.
Food Alliance certification is not intended to duplicate or otherwise supplant local, regional, or federal laws, many of which are dedicated to the same sorts of issues as this certification program. Instead, this certification is designed to provide a basis for a promotional campaign intended to reward farmers and ranchers for their exemplary efforts. In order to ensure the certification criteria are being met at all times, several verification and compliance activities occur:
Annual Reporting: Each year, certified farmers and ranchers must file an “Annual Update,” detailing how they have fulfilled the guiding principles and achieved their continual improvement goals (as expressed in writing in the Food Alliance application). If a participant either does not complete, submits an incomplete, or falsifies an Annual Update, their certification can be suspended.
Un-announced visits: Each year Food Alliance conducts un-announced visits on 3% of participating farms and ranches. Operations are either selected at random for unannounced visits or they are selected based on areas of concern (with regard to specific standards) first identified in the initial inspection process.
Suspension and Revocation: If in the course of an unannounced site visit, or in the Annual Update report (see above), it becomes clear that a participant is not adhering to the standards, Food Alliance staff will investigate the situation further. If further investigation demonstrates that the participant is not operating in a manner consistent with Food Alliance certification standards, their certification will be suspended.
The participant is given a timeline to address the conditions of the suspension. If they choose to remedy the violation within the timeframe, their certification will be restored. The certification will be revoked if the violation is not remedied.
All fees for participation are paid directly to Food Alliance. Applicants never pay fees to site inspectors. The fee is paid annually on a sliding scale based on gross sales of Food Alliance certified products (see table below). The first year fee is based on estimated sales. Subsequent year fees are based on the previous year sales. $400 is payable at the time of application and is non-refundable. The balance for year one is invoiced upon completion of the inspection and mailing of the inspection report, payable in 30 days. After the initial year, Food Alliance will invoice the grower annually on the date of the original certification. Certification is valid for 3 years. Certified producers may opt out of the program prior to the end of the three year certification only after a total of $1200 has been paid to Food Alliance (the minimum payment allowable over three years).
Fee Schedule: Independent Producers
Annual Certification Fee
Annual Certification Fee includes Inspection Fee, which is applied evenly over three year term of certification
0.5% on first $175,000 or $400 (whichever is greater)
0.25% on sales between $175-$300,000
0.10% on sales between $300-$500,000
0.05% on sales over $500,000
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For many more insights into the World of Organics, explore our new report: Organic2006: Consumer Attitudes & Behavior, Five Years Later & Into the Future. click for more»
May 31, 2006 @ 12:00 pm
A279 Plant and Soil Sciences Bldg.
Dr. Weibel is the head of the research
and advisory activities in fruit, berry and vine growing of FiBL (http://www.fibl.org/english/index.php).
Dr. Weibels research is in variety and rootstock testing for organic fruit
growing (apple and cherry); development and evaluation of marketing concepts to
introduce new (organic) apple varieties; weed control and soil management
concepts; tree nutrition concepts; fruit thinning concepts; quality assessment
with emphasis on health related components; testing suitability of holistic
methods of quality assessment; system comparison trials organic/conventional;
projects on soil fertility with microbial and physical aspects in organic
fruit and vine growing.
Science based practical recommendations for the site and situation adapted use of herbicide free weed control methods. Development of a sensor device and software to measure accurately real-time sap flow (transpiration) of apple trees growing in the field. Science based recommendations for variety choice in organic fruit production. Creation, introduction and evaluation of a new marketing concept to introduce unknown (scab resistant) apple varieties in a Supermarket chain. This Taste-Groups-Conceptis now successfully introduced at the two dominating supermarket chains of
Initiation of a national now smoothly co-operating interdisciplinary scientific and advisory network to solve flexibly and efficiently the various problems of organic fruit growing. Member of multinational research groups for EU-project grants. Initiator and presently chair of the "European Group of Researchers in Organic Fruit" EUGROF; Vice-President of the Working Group of Organic Fruit of ISHS.
Creation of and assistance for seven regional rings of organic fruit growers in
Organic Vegetable and Crop Outreach Specialist
C.S. Mott Sustainable Food Systems
303 Natural Resrouces Bldg.
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