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EMERYVILLE, Calif. - A coalition of organizations and industry players have launched a new certification program recognizing socially responsible business practices by agricultural businesses.
The group includes Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), a sustainability standards developer and certifier in sectors such as food, forestry, fisheries, and cut flowers; Numi Organic Tea, the International Labor Rights Fund, and NSF International, an independent nonprofit developer of standards and certifications for food, water, and consumer goods.
The new program is called Fair Labor Practices and Community Benefits certification. The organizations kicked off the program at the annual Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, Calif. earlier this month.
The certification is based on the social and economic sustainability elements of "SCS-001 Sustainable Agriculture," which has been submitted by SCS to NSF International for filing as a Draft American National Standard for Trial Use with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the official U.S. national standards administrator. Once the standard is formally filed, it will undergo further review and refinement via a multi-stakeholder, consensus-based process. Farms, processors, and handlers that are certified organic under the U.S. National Organic Program are also eligible for certification under the new Fair Labor Practices and Community Benefits label as long as they meet the Fair Labor Practices, Community Benefits, and all other applicable criteria.
"This groundbreaking initiative will improve the lives and livelihoods of agricultural workers worldwide, and provide greater assurance to consumers and businesses that social responsibility commitments are being met," said SCS v.p. of corporate social responsiblity Ted Howes in a statement. "The requirements for achieving the Fair Labor Practices and Community Benefits certification represent significant benchmarks of environmental and social responsibility achievements."
Requirements for companies to receive the Fair Labor Practices and Community Benefits certification include high standards related to hiring and employment practices, workplace conditions, and access for workers and their families to transportation, health, and education services. The requirements address such issues as hiring, wages, working hours and overtime, the right to organize and to collective bargaining, vacation and sick leave, child labor, access to housing and sanitary facilities, occupational health and safety, and community engagement.