- Applying for Certification
- Certification Cycle
- Scoring System
In order to apply for any of the Rainforest Alliance certification or verification programs, a subcontracted Inspection Body authorized to work in your area must first evaluate your operation. In order to apply:
Please fill out the F-AU-5-3E Farm Certification Service Application Form or F-AU-12-3E Service Application Group Administrator and submit it to email@example.com. Your application will be forwarded to an Inspection Body to be processed.
You may also choose to submit it directly to your nearest Inspection Body for them to assess your application.
Once your application has been assessed and approved by the Inspection Body, you will be contacted with a quotation and schedule proposal for the audit to be carried out.
The Rainforest Alliance CertifiedTM cycle covers a three-year period as detailed below.
The following activities are carried out during this period:
Certification Audit: Determines conformity to the social and environmental standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network. A certification decision is made as a result of the audit.
Annual Audits: Conducted in Years 1 and 2. These audits verify and monitor the ongoing fulfillment of the standards and serve to identify any corrective actions necessary to maintain compliance.
In order for a farm or group to maintain its certification for another three-year cycle, the farm or group must carry out a certification audit in the third year to renew the certificate. A certification audit must also be conducted in the third year.
In addition to scheduled audits, other types of audits can be conducted in order to verify fulfillment of the standards throughout the certification cycle. Verification audits are conducted to verify documentation and plans created in previous audits. Research audits are unannounced visits, often to research complaints or specific issues brought to the attention of the inspection bodies and/or certification bodies.
The following scoring system applies:
1. General Compliance: Auditors apply the following scoring system during farm audit. Farm performance is scored based on all applicable criteria of the Sustainable Agriculture Standard of the Sustainable Agriculture Network.
- In order to obtain and maintain certification, the farms must comply with at least 80% of all applicable criteria and 50% of each principle’s applicable criteria.
2. Compliance with the Critical Criteria of the Sustainable Agriculture Standard of the Sustainable Agriculture Network:
- A farm must completely comply with a critical criterion in order for the farm to be certified or maintain certification – partial compliance is not sufficient.
- These are identified with the text .“Critical Criterion.” at the beginning of the criterion.
- Any farm not complying with a critical criterion will not be certified, or certification will be cancelled, even if all other certification requirements have been met. If a farm’s certification is cancelled because of this reason, a new certification audit cannot be planned during the three months that follow the date of communication about the cancelling of certification.
- During the audit process, an inspection body’s auditor team must not accept the resolution of non-conformities on critical criteria by a client.
3. Compliance at the criterion level:
If the farm does not comply with the implementation of any of the practices defined in the criteria of Standard, this fact will result in the designation of a nonconformity, which is determined on the basis of each individual criterion. There are two categories of non-conformities:
- Major Non-Conformity (MNC): This indicates a 0% to 49% compliance with a criterion.
- Minor non-conformity (mnc): This indicates a 50% to 99% compliance with a criterion.
For more information, please see the SAN Farm Certification Policy.
The following scoring system applies for SAN group audits:
Group Administrator’s Compliance
In order to obtain and maintain the certification status, the group administrator must comply with:
1. All critical criteria of the Sustainable Agriculture Network Group Certification Standard;
- A group administrator must completely comply with a critical criterion in order to be certified or to maintain certification.
- Any group administrator not complying with a critical criterion will not be certified, or certification will be cancelled, even if all other certification requirements have been met.
2. At least 50% of the criteria of each principle.
3. At least 80% of all criteria of this standard at the first certification audit (Year 1).
4. At least 85% of all criteria of this standard at the second (first annual) audit (Year 2). This rule applies to all following audits as of the second certification cycle onwards, but only if the number of member farms has not increased by more than 10% in comparison to the member farm list of the previous audit.
5. At least 90% of all criteria of this standard at the third (second annual) audit (Year 3). This 90% rule applies for all following audits of the second certification cycle onwards also, but only if the number of member farms has not increased by more than 10% in comparison to the member farm list of the previous audit.
6. SAN Group Certification Policy applies.
Member Farms’ Compliance:
1. In order to obtain and maintain certification, the group administrator must assure that all its member farms forming part of the representative sample of audited farms comply with the SAN certification requirements (including the scoring system) defined in the SAN Sustainable Agriculture Standard.
2. The following additional rules apply for group administrators with 17 or more group members:
- Up to 20% of the audited sample of group member farms can score less than 80% but not below 70%. However there must be full compliance with all of the SAN Sustainable Agriculture Standard's critical criteria and compliance with at least 50% of the criteria of each principle.
- For every subsequent audit those group members who had not previously received an 80% score must fully comply with SAN's certification requirements as defined in the SAN Sustainable Agricultural Standard. This applies for all following audits and also for audits of new audit cycles.
3. All sampled group member farms of group administrators with 16 or less group members must each comply with the general scoring system of the Sustainable Agriculture Standard. The rule mentioned above about 17 or more group members does not apply in this case. If a farm of the audit sample does not comply, the group administrator is subject to cancelling its certification, if it does not comply with the respective verification audit requirements of the Group Certification Standard, section 3.1.
4. SAN Farm Certification Policy applies.
Compliance at the Criterion Level
Not implementing any or some of the practices as defined by the criteria of the SAN Group Certification Standard or SAN Sustainable Agriculture Standard will result in the assignment of a non-conformity determined on the basis of each individual criterion. There are two categories of non-conformities:
Evaluation is carried out to verify compliance with all the certification criteria defined in the
Sustainable Agriculture Network Standards and Policies applicable to the operation. The Sustainable Agriculture Network approved inspection bodies, have rigorously trained auditors who will effectively and ethically evaluate your operation.
The evaluation will cover the infrastructure (offices, housing areas, store rooms, processing and packaging plants), conservation, fallow land, all production plots and its crops, and livestock production areas
It will also include the farm workers, any post-harvest activities and communities close to the operation. Review of documents of the internal management system (groups) and the social and environmental management system will also be considered, as well as interviews with the personnel.
Once the audit has concluded, the audit team will submit an audit report which shall be reviewed by the inspection body and the farm or group. The final version of the report will be sent along with other relevant documentation to Sustainable Farm Certification for analysis and certification decision.
The Certification Committee of the Sustainable Farm Certification International, Ltda. is responsible for making the certification decision pertinent to granting, maintaining, extending, suspending and cancelling certification of a farm or group in an independent and transparent manner, as well as follow up complaints, claims and appeals, define an order of investigation to a particular process and authorize verification audits. Once the inspection body submits the documentation related to the certification process, the Committee reviews the audit report and related documentation to ensure compliance with the standards and policies of the Sustainable Agriculture Network, and makes a decision to approve or deny certification for the farm or group, or verification for the chain of custody operation wherever applicable. Please allow 10 to 15 business days in order to review and communicate the decision of the Certification Committee.
Once certification is approved, a Certification Agreement between the producer and Sustainable Farm Certification International, Ltd. must be signed and all fees must be paid in order to obtain the certificate and access to the Rainforest Alliance Marketplace and Sustainable Farm Certification International Ltd. Certified Producers directory.
Three other committees are involved in the certification process. The Advisory Committee supervises that certification decisions are taken impartially, objectively, transparently and independently; and attached to Sustainable Agriculture Network’s policies, principles and guidelines. The Appeals Committee is in charge of receiving, analyzing and making a decision on second degree appeals, assuring that the decision is made considering technical elements and current criteria of the Standards and Policies of the Sustainable Agriculture Network. The Technical Committee makes recommendations to the Certification Committee regarding technical aspects of farm and group compliance with the standards and policies of the Sustainable Agriculture Network.
Sustainable Farm Certification International, Ltda. in its commitment to continual improvement, provides attention to complaints, claims and appeals and follow-up through established procedures. Complaints, claims and appeals to the certification decision are handled as confidential between the person or organization who requests such measures and the scope of action involved.
Complaints and Claims
To communicate a problem presented regarding farm or group management, you may present a complaint.
You may also present a claim with reference to a service provided to you.
If you wish to present an appeal to the certification decision, please fill the F-AU-10-2E Complaints claims and appeals form and submit it to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the P-AU-7-1 Procedimiento Manejo de Apelaciones you may find further information about this process.
Sustainable Farm Certification Intl, in its Client information access policy, is committed to respect the privacy of client information, as well as to guarantee client’s access to information they provide and that generated from related activities, among which are:
Complaints, claims and appeals.
Certification Committee information.
The client may gain access to this information by writing expressly to the Certification Committee through the client’s authorized certification contact.
Additional requirements once certification has been obtained:
1. The producer must always comply with the certification program guidelines.
2. The producer must make all the necessary arrangements to conduct the audit, by making available documentation for examination, and grant access to all areas, records (including internal audit reports) and personnel for the purpose of the audit and resolution of claims.
3. Certification claims must only be made to the certification scope.
4. The producer must not employ the certified product in a way that Sustainable Farm Certification International, Ltda. loses prestige and does not include any declaration of its certified product which may be considered as erroneous or unauthorized by Sustainable Farm Certification International, Ltda.
5. Upon suspension or certification cancellation, the producer must discontinue use of all public affairs that contain any reference to certification, and return all certification documents that Sustainable Farm Certification International, Ltda. may request.
6. The producer must use certification only to indicate that certified products are in conformity with specific standards.
7. The producer makes an effort to guarantee that neither the certificate nor the report, nor any parts of these are employed in a misleading manner.
8. The producer must comply with Sustainable Farm Certification International, Ltda.’s requirements when mentioning product certification in mass media such as documents, brochures or publicity.
Conditions for Cancelling Certification
Sustainable Farm Certification, Intl. may cancel a farm's certification under any of the following conditions:
1. The client does not comply with Sustainable Agriculture Network’s applicable certification policies and standards.
2. The client does not incorporate Sustainable Agriculture Network updated documents and its modifications on the period set by the Sustainable Agriculture Network Secretariat.
3. The client does not comply with the conditions stipulated on the Certification Agreement signed with the certification body.
4. The client does not allow the development of an audit justified by the certification body.
5. An annual or certification audit is carried out after the expiration date of the certificate each year.
6. The client performs bribery or coercion to the auditor or audit team of an Inspection Body with the intention of influencing the audit result.
7. The client does not declare in a precise and fair way the scope of its certification and certified products, according to "Rainforest Alliance Certified Use of Seal Guidelines".
8. The client participates in a direct or indirect way in sales, commercialization or publicity of non-certified products in relation with Rainforest Alliance Certified certification seal, according to "Rainforest Alliance Certified Use of the Seal Guidelines."
9. The client commits fraud of the condition of Rainforest Alliance Certified certification or its products Rainforest Alliance Certified.
10. The client fails to inform the buyers about the restrictions that apply for the use of the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal.
Please see our list of Inspection Bodies here and the scope of services offered.