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SAN Standard 2016 Revision Proccess

Our most asked questions

  • What is the main objective of the new SAN Standard?
    The standards seek to conserve biodiversity and natural resources on farms and ranches, as well as optimize productivity and profitability by implementing best practices that ultimately generate higher income and wellbeing for farmers, workers and their families.

    We are committed to the publication of a certification standard of the highest level, a leader in the sector, which at the same time will be an accessible tool for instructing and partnering with producers that are just starting to take their first steps on the path to sustainability.

    Approximately every five years, the Standard is reviewed to conform it to the needs and challenges of a robust and growing certification system that is already operating in more than 40 countries with over 100 crops.

    We are always pursuing continuous improvement and more efficient ways to include the latest scientific and technological knowledge in ecosystem conservation, productivity, pesticide management, and workers’ wellbeing.

  • Who is involved in the revision of the Standard?
    All the actors who have an important role in the agricultural chain: producers, NGOs, companies interested in sustainable products, academics, government representatives, auditors and representatives of certification bodies. We listen to everyone’s opinions.
  • Who oversees the quality of the standards and ensures that they remain up to date?
    First, the SAN Board of Directors, composed of the directors of the network’s ten member organizations. We also have an International Standards Committee, whose members are experts and researchers in the field of agricultural sustainability.
  • When did the current revision process begin and how many people have participated?
    This process began in 2013 and to date has involved more than 1,000 people from other organizations, companies, governments, universities and producer groups in 50 countries.
  • When will the new SAN Standard be published, and when will it be binding for the audits of farms and producer groups?
    The new SAN Sustainable Agriculture Standard will be published in September 2016 and it will be binding for audits on all farms and groups starting July 2017.
  • What are the main changes included in the 2016 SAN Standard?
    The 2016 SAN Standard is based on four principles of sustainability instead of ten, like its 2010 predecessor. These principles, which address the SAN Theory of Change are:
    – Effective planning and management systems
    – Increased farm productivity and profitability
    – Biodiversity conservation
    – Natural resource conservation
    – Improvement of livelihoods and the wellbeing of farmers and their families.

    Moreover, there is a specific principle for sustainable cattle production and differentiated criteria for farms and producer groups.

    The 2016 version of our standards includes criteria that promote planning to enhance productivity; it also adopts a model of pesticide control and use based on the prohibition of hazardous substances and risk management of permitted substances with specific activities for mitigation that go beyond a simple list of banned products.

    Work requirements have been strengthened and in addition to basic issues such as decent wages and workers’ rights, they focus on satisfying the essential needs of workers and small farmers, such as access to drinking water, education and health. Moreover, plantations that provide housing for their workers must ensure that it is safe, free from disease and provides protection against extreme weather conditions.

    The new SAN Standard also has clearer concepts of natural ecosystems and areas of High Conservation Value to facilitate their identification and conservation, and it implements a scoring system in the audits that promotes continuous improvement more consistently.

    This standard incorporates an innovative model centered on full compliance with a robust set of critical criteria and a series of continuous improvement requirements distributed at varying levels over time.

  • How are climate change adaptation and mitigation covered by the 2016 SAN Sustainable Agriculture Standard?
    The SAN / Rainforest Alliance certification system will not have a separate module of standards for Climate Change, as it did in the past. We have chosen to facilitate the implementation of practices for prevention, adaptation and mitigation throughout the Standard, so that they will be carried out by all certified farms.

    The new 2016 SAN Standard encourages plantations and small farmers to consider possible extreme weather events in their planning cycle, including actions for ensuring soil health and optimizing the use of water.

    It requires a minimum percentage of natural vegetation on the farms and promotes the adoption of agroforestry systems.

    The carbon footprint of farms certified under the SAN standards is minimized through optimized agrochemical use, carbon sequestration by trees, and the protection of high carbon storage ecosystems and other areas with High Conservation Value. The standards also have specific criteria for reducing carbon footprints on cattle farms.

  • How is the 2010 Standard for Sustainable Cattle Production Systems reflected in the 2016 SAN Standard?
    The new “Sustainable Cattle Production” principle covers all the topics of the SAN 2010 Cattle Production Standard and it calls for herds to be reared and kept in decent, sustainable conditions from birth to slaughter.

    In addition to pursuing animal welfare and product quality, the 2016 SAN Standard ensures that certified cattle farms reduce their greenhouse gas emissions through cattle diet optimization, productivity and sound manure and urine management.

  • Who will provide technical assistance to producers as they face the requirements of the new SAN Standard?
    Through its members in many countries and other specialists, throughout 2016 and 2017 the SAN will focus on the identification and assessment of needs for support and the development of tools for producers including guides, manuals and templates.

    SAN partners and specialists in each country will use these tools to provide training directly to producers.

  • Does the new SAN Standard implies an increase in costs of audits?
    SAN commitment is publishing a more concise and focused on results Standard, that is very clear for audits. We are taking all precautionary measures in both, the Standard and the assurance model, so that these changes do not create unnecessary costs for producers.
  • How local indicators for the new standard are going to be developed?
    Local indicators will be developed by certification bodies in coordination with the SAN Secretariat covering the contents of those criteria where local regulation is specifically mentioned. Additionally, local material will be available for the SAN HCV concept and the local benchmarks of the Global Living Wage Coalition.