What We Do


The Agricultural Justice Project (AJP) works to transform the existing agricultural system. We seek empowerment, justice and fairness for all who labor from farm to retail. Central to our mission are the principles that all humans deserve respect, the freedom to live with dignity and nurture community, and share responsibility for preserving the earth’s resources for future generations.

Consolidation of power, an economy driven by profit, structural racism, and the individualistic nature of our culture are among the root causes of the severe injustices in our food system. These give rise to the advantage of some people over others and invite corruption and lack of transparency while silencing many voices. People are pitted against people, sector against sector. Essential values are discredited and true costs externalized as we ignore the interconnectedness of whole systems. Working people who have the power to change the system remain disunited and in the dark. The very same mechanisms that have led to the need for food justice have given rise as well to the need for racial and environmental justice. The negative impacts of climate change, failure to recycle society’s wastes, and infrastructure deterioration fall most heavily on low income neighborhoods and communities of color while threatening the present and future health of all living beings. By focusing on the need for fair trading in farm products and fair treatment of food workers, AJP contributes to shifting the dominant system towards greater fairness and equity. We believe that taking care of and engaging all the members of our human family are necessary preconditions for the regeneration of a viable biosphere. Farms and food businesses that function as cohesive, integrated, aware social organisms have a special role to play in ensuring the health of humans, cultures, animals, and our planet. Our work spans the U.S. and Canada in the following main focus areas:

Providing Certification and Technical Assistance Tools to Transform the Food System.

We provide farms and food businesses with technical tools to improve work and trade practices from farm to retail, including extensive toolkits and templates, one-on-one technical assistance, and a stakeholder-driven certification program for high bar social justice standards -- Food Justice Certification (FJC), the gold standard for labor and trade practices in North America. We support and partner with third-party certifiers and worker organizations that carry out the certification and inspection process for the FJC program. Food Justice Certified products can be found on grocery store shelves, farmers markets, CSAs and roadside stands. We maintain a Social Justice Fund, through which five percent of all grants received are set aside, and a portion is used to subsidize certification fees through our cost share program for small family farms and independent retailers and cooperatives that have excellent labor practices, but are experiencing economic hardship.

Raising Awareness of the Need for Transforming the Food System and Models that Can Accomplish Change.

We engage in outreach and education to raise awareness of the disparities and injustice in the food system and the types of approaches needed to realize real change for those marginalized by the current system. Our awareness-raising work is done through social and public media, events and presentations, networking and partnering, contributing comments on other fair market claim programs and associations, providing tools for improving working and trade practices, and promoting the Food Justice Certified (FJC) label in the marketplace. The FJC label helps launch conversations about why such a label is needed and what it means, the existence of inequities and injustice in the food system, the need to address them, and actions that can be taken.

Domestic Fair Trade


Building a Domestic Fair Trade Movement

The members of the Agricultural Justice Project are part of a much larger network of organizations working to build a national movement for domestic fair trade.

Many people today are familiar with International Fair Trade, as it applies to the import of items such as coffee, tea, and cocoa. However, as the movement has grown it has become apparent that many of the challenges facing farmers in developing countries, are facing family farmers and workers here in North America. Big agribusiness continues to thrive while small farms and retailers have gone out of business. Consumers pay more, while farmers and workers receive less. Farmworkers are denied fair wages and basic rights.

This video by the Fair Food Project highlights some of the amazing organizations working to build awareness and change the way our food system works.

We are proud associate members of the Domestic Fair Trade Association (DFTA). To be a resource for both the public and the broader movement in assessing marketplace claims for social justice or fairness, the DFTA developed criteria and reviews fair trade programs. To learn more about the labels you're buying visit the DFTA website today.

DFTA Works to:

  • Raise awareness of domestic fair trade issues
  • Promote legitimate fair trade and social justice programs
  • Support businesses that practice fair trade
  • Improve conditions and outcomes for farmers and workers

Agricultural Justice Project


214 West University Ave. Suite D
Gainesville, FL 32601

(919) 809-7332

info@agriculturaljusticeproject.org

Signup for AJP’s Newsletter

Complaints and Conflict Resolution


AJP is committed to managing the Food Justice Certified program in a fair and transparent manner. We appreciate feedback, and have developed a system to receive and respond to concerns.

To read our Complaints, Conflict Resolution and Appeals Process language in-depth, please click here to download this section from our Policy Manual.

Summary of the Process:

We handle complaints through one process, and conflict resolution and appeals through another process.

Complaints: Concerns raised by anyone about the integrity of Food Justice Certified (FJC) labeled products or entities, the FJC certification process, FJC standards, the behavior or actions of Agricultural Justice Project (AJP) representatives, and/or AJP policies. An example of a complaint would be a complaint of unprofessional behavior on the part of an AJP representative in their capacity as accreditor, standards maintenance, or technical assistance. A customer could also make a complaint, for example, raising questions about whether an FJC product comes from a farm or business that truly adheres to the FJC standards.

Conflict resolution: We are using this term for internal issues between parties that are directly involved in FJC farms and businesses. All grievances reported between parties within the certified supply chain will be treated as internal and subject to conflict resolution. FJC standards require that every certified farm or business must have a conflict resolution procedure outlined for the workplace or farmer/buyer or business-to-business contracts. Examples of an internal conflict resolution would be: a worker’s claim of the employer’s failure to comply with FJC standards, or a farmer’s claim of a buyer’s failure to comply with FJC standards.

Appeals: If either the subject of a complaint or the person submitting a complaint is unsatisfied with the outcome, an appeal can be made to the FJC Board together with the Advisory Council.

Process for Filing a Complaint:

Complaints should be submitted in writing to AJP:

Agricultural Justice Project
P.O. Box 510
4 South Jersey Drive
Glassboro NJ, 08020
or Fax: 856-881-2027, ATTN: AJP Complaints
or Email: info@agriculturaljusticeproject.org
Phone: 856-881-2507

The person writing or submitting the complaint should explain their relationship to the project or the individuals mentioned in the complaint.

Exceptions will be made for those who cannot be reasonably expected to submit a complaint in writing. This could include illiteracy or low levels of literacy, language barriers, or cultural reasons. In those cases AJP will work with its partners to ensure that complaints are documented in a complete manner, translated if necessary, and handled on an equal basis with written complaints.

Steps in the Complaints Process

1. Investigator assigned to assess validity and scope of complaint.
2. Investigator gathers preliminary information to determine validity and scope of complaint and communicates finding to complainant and, if AJP representatives or personnel are involved, to them.
3. If investigator declares complaint is not relevant for further investigation, complainant can appeal within 3 weeks.
4. If found to be relevant for further investigation, investigator gathers additional information to formulate recommendations and submits findings and recommendation to AJP Board.
5. AJP Board reviews findings and recommendations and decides by consensus whether to endorse recommendations or request further investigation. AJP Board informs all relevant parties of this decision.
6. Subject or complainant has the right to appeal.
7. AJP files records.
8. AJP assesses if a change in the quality system is needed and if so, change will be made and posted to website and sent out to clients.

Governance


AJP is stakeholder-driven, and committed to the principles of democratic leadership. We believe that all members of the agricultural system should have a role in developing and guiding our standards and certification program.

Our Stakeholders

The size and membership of the Advisory Council and Standards Committee are determined based on principles of equal representation. AJP has identified key stakeholder groups: Farmers, Workers (food system workers and farmworkers), Retailers, Food Businesses (manufacturers, processors or brand holders), and Indigenous Communities or expertise in a field related to AJP work. The Council and Committee are established with an equal number of representatives from each stakeholder group to the extent possible. Representatives from additional groups, such as civil-society NGOs or certifiers, are also welcome to join. Contact us for more information on becoming a member.

The label is governed by three collaborative committees made up of representatives from different food system stakeholder groups:

                    • Advisory Council Members
                    • Standards Committee Members
                    • Board of Directors

You can read about our governance process in section 7.0 of our Policy Manual. Our bylaws are available upon request to info@agriculturaljusticeproject.org. Click here to find out what we were up to in 2015: Annual Activities Report.

Advisory Council Members

The AJP Advisory Council is active year-round and offers guidance to the Board of Directors and AJP Staff on standards interpretation, policy development, and many other issues. The AC meets by conference call to consider any program or standards changes proposed by the Board and Staff. Members must be able to contribute time to carefully consider revisions and guide the program in annual meetings and in urgent revisions scenarios. The Advisory Council is composed of stakeholders in the food system.

  1. Ernesto Bustos, Executive Director, Centro Campesino, MN
  2. Tirso Moreno, Farmworkers Association of Florida, FL
  3. Keith Talbot, Workers Legal Rights Project, NJ
  4. Jim Cochran, Swanton Berry Farm, CA
  5. Joann Lo, Food Chain Workers Alliance, CA
  6. Rosalinda Guillen, Executive Director, Community to Community Development, WA
  7. Denise Aguero, Independent Organic and FJC Inspector, FL
  8. Becca Berkey, Northeastern University, MA
  9. Gail Wadsworth, California Institute for Rural Studies, CA
  10. Jason Boyce, Nature's Path Foods, BC Canada

Standards Committee Members

The Standards Committee is convened formally every 5 years for the FJC standards revision process. Committee members are invited to participate based on expertise or experience in a particular area of the food system the AJP standards cover. Members may be called upon on occasion in between 5-year revisions to address urgent standards revision issues.

Current Standards Committee Members for the 2015-2016 Revision Process:

  1. Rosalinda Guillen, Community to Community, WA
  2. Grace Cox, Olympia Food Coop, WA
  3. Kathy Peters, Abundance Cooperative Market, NY
  4. Tirso Moreno, Farmworkers Association of Florida, FL
  5. Marion McBride, Farmer Direct Cooperative, Canada
  6. Rufus Haucke, Keewaydin Farms, WI
  7. Nancy Vail, Pie Ranch, CA
  8. Linda Halley, Gardens of Eagan, MN
  9. Jessica Culley, Farmworker Support Committee (CATA), NJ

Board of Directors

AJP is governed by a Board of Directors, a collaboration of the four founding non-profits of the Agricultural Justice Project working to create equity and fairness in our food system. These non-profits include El Comite de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas/The Farmworker Support Committee (CATA), Florida Organic Growers (FOG), Northeast Organic Farming Association, and Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI). Our Board Members contribute significant time to carry out Board activities.

Elizabeth Henderson

The Northeast Organic Farming Association
elizabethhenderson13@gmail.com
www.nofa.org
(585) 764-8471
Elizabeth Henderson farmed at Peacework Farm in Wayne County, New York, producing organically grown vegetables for the fresh market for over 30 years. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York (NOFA-NY), co-chairs the Policy Committee, and represents the NOFA Interstate Council on the Board of the Agricultural Justice Project. For 20 years, from 1993 – 2013, she chaired the Agricultural Development Board in Wayne County and took an active role in creating the Farming and Farmland Protection Plan for the county. In 2001, the organic industry honored her with one of the first “Spirit of Organic awards, in 2007, Abundance Co-op honored her with the “Cooperating for Communities” award and in 2009 NOFA-NY honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award and then a Golden Carrot in 2013. In 2014 Eco-Farm presented her with their “Advocate of Social Justice Award, the Justie.” Her writings on organic agriculture appear in The Natural Farmer and other publications, and she is the lead author ofSharing the Harvest: A Citizen’s Guide to Community Supported Agriculture (Chelsea Green, 2007). She also wrote A Food Book for a Sustainable Harvest for the members of Peacework Organic Community Supported Agriculture (aka GVOCSA) in its twenty sixth year in 2014.

Jessica Culley

Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas / Farmworker Support Committee (CATA)
catanj@aol.com
www.cata-farmworkers.org
856-881-2507
Jessica Culley has been working with the grassroots community organizing of CATA – The Farmworkers’ Support Committee over the past 17 years in a variety of roles from Community Organizer to Program Coordinator and now to General Coordinator. She loves the work with CATA because of the real base building work done outreaching to farmworker and low wage immigrant workers in the Mid-Atlantic region where CATA organizes and bringing the voices, experiences and leadership of our members to national and international work addressing the injustices of the food system.

Marty Mesh

Florida Organic Growers (FOG)
fogoffice@aol.com
www.foginfo.org
(352) 377-6345
Marty Mesh is an expert in sustainable agriculture. His work in the natural foods community started in 1973 and, in 1976, he helped start Bellevue Gardens Organic Farm which he was involved with for 26 years. Marty Mesh serves or has served multiple terms on the Boards of the Organic Trade Association (OTA), the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG), Accredited Certifier Association, Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI), Alachua County Nutrition Alliance, and the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture (now merged and called National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)) among others. In addition to public policy work in the U.S., he has also worked on an international level, helping farmers and farm workers in developing countries to advance organic and sustainable agriculture as well as organic certification. He was named by a national publication as one of the top 20 people, among others such as USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and Senator Patrick Leahy, who most influenced the development of the organic industry.

Michael Sligh

Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI-USA)
msligh@rafiusa.org
www.rafiusa.org
(919) 542-1396
Michael Sligh is a founding member of RAFI-USA, Michael manages policy, research and education regarding agricultural best practices, agricultural biodiversity, biotechnology, organic identity preservation and a range of food justice and other value-added food labeling, and marketing issues. He has more than 30 years’ experience in agricultural practices and policy analysis, including both domestic and international work. Michael holds the following titles: Founding Chair of the USDA/National Organic Standards Board; Founder of Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group; Founder of National Organic Coalition, Founding partner of Agricultural Justice Project and Founding member of Domestic Fair Trade Association. He is also a part-time family farmer and a trained anthropologist. Michael lives, farms and works in North Carolina.

Nelson Carrasquillo

Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas / Farmworker Support Committee (CATA)
cata@cata-farmworkers.org
www.cata-farmworkers.org
(856) 881-2507
Nelson Carrasquillo has a master's degree in social work, and was an organizer for the fishermen’s union then Community Coordinator for PRISA, doing organizing work for farmworkers, small farmers, fishermen and urban communities in Puerto Rico. Since 1992, Nelson has been the Executive Director of El Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores (CATA- The Farmworkers’ Support Committee), working with migrant farmworkers located in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the Delmarva Peninsula, and Puerto Rico. He serves on the boards of the Urban/Rural Mission and the Farmworker Health and Safety Institute and was a member of the USDA Small Farm Commission (1998). In 2007, he was named to Governor Corzine’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Immigration. Currently, Mr. Carrasquillo serves as Board Member of the Agricultural Justice Project.

Jennifer Salinetti

Woven Roots Farm
wovenrootsfarm@gmail.com
www.wovenrootsfarm.com/
Jennifer Salinetti earned a bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Agriculture and Herbal Studies from the University of Massachusetts. She furthered her studies through apprenticeships on organic farms and at education centers before starting her own family business. Jen and her husband own and operate Woven Roots Farm, a vegetable farm, CSA and education center based in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, that focuses on bio-intensive growing using no-till and environmentally sound farming practices. For the past 15 years, Jen has taught classes and has lead garden education programs throughout New England and has been actively involved in the local food movement within the Berkshires. Jen serves on the Board of Trustees at the Montessori School of the Berkshires and on the Board of Directors at the Berkshire Co-op Market. Jen is excited for her first opportunity to participate in facilitating positive change and equality in our food system on a national level with AJP.

Press & Newsletter Archives


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AJP and Food Justice Certified In the News:

Modern Farmer - February 2017
High Cost of Cheap Labor

Progressive Grocer - January 2017
The Food Justice Certified Label is Here-- Are You Ready?

National Geographic - December 2016
Organic Farming Doesn't Mean Fairer Labor

Reveal - November 2016
Beware the Little Green Frog Logo on Your Sustainable Food

California Institute for Rural Studies - November 2016
Certification of Agriculture Fair Labor Practices

Food Tank - November 2016
20 Organizations Fighting for Food Justice

Cornell Small Farms Quarterly - November 2016
Farmers Sign on to the Agricultural Justice Project

Organic Consumers Association - October 2016
'Fairly' Confusing

Fair World Project - "For A Better World" magazine - October 2016
Issues and Challenges For A Just Economy

Morning Ag Clips - October 2016
Group Evaluates Farmworker Labels

YAHOO! Sports - October 2016
New Report from Fair World Project Evaluates Certification Programs that Seek to Ensure Transparency and Integrity of Working Conditions for Farmworkers

Center for Good Food Purchasing - 2016
Recommended Good Food Purchasing Values - Valued Workforce

In Good Tilth - Summer 2016
Perspective From a Food Justice Certified Farm

Cotter Crunch - May 2016
Garlicky Green Crock-Pot Chicken and Lentils {Gluten Free}

Heritage Radio Network – March 2016
The Farm Report: Episode 283 Fair Farm Labor for Farmers & Farm Workers

WCJP-TV – March 2016
Certification Looks at Employment

John Hopkins's Center for A Livable Future – February 2016
Instituting Change: An Overview of Institutional Food Procurement and Recommendations for Improvement

National Young Farmers Coalition – February 2016
Dismantling Injustice in the Food System: An Interview with Elizabeth Henderson

Forage Newsletter – February 2016
Organic and Fair Farming Practices in Gainesville, FL

Rochester Human Rights Committee – December 2015
Food Justice: The Right to Good, Clean, Local Food

Farmer to Farmer Podcast – December 2015
Elizabeth Henderson on International and Personal Perspectives on CSA

EcoFarm Newsletter – December 2015
From Our Fellow Farmer

Northeast Organic Farming Association - Rhode Island (NOFA-RI) – December 2015
Agricultural Justice Standards Update Comment Period Open

TIME – November 2015
The Best Way to Give Thanks? How About a Raise?

Food First – October 2015
$15/Hour Minimum Wage: Disaster or Opportunity for Family-scale Farms?

San Francisco Chronicle – September 2015
A Guide to the Fair Trade Labels

iEat Green – August 2015
iEat Green Interviews Elizabeth Henderson; A Farmer, Author, NOFA-NY Board Member and Lifetime Activist

Washington Post – July 2015
Will there ever be an organics label for worker rights?

AJP Press Release – June 2015
Taste the Fairness in North Central Florida’s Watermelons

AJP Press Release – April 2015
Whole Foods Market presents 2014 Supplier of the Year Award to the Agricultural Justice Project

edible Monterey Bay - Spring 2015
Edible Life: Not Easily Labeled

USDA Blog – March 2015
In Conversation with #WomeninAg: Lindsey Lusher Shute

Merced Sun-Star – January 2015
Food Justice Label Could Help Local Farmworkers

The Nation – November 2014
Can the Foodie Trend Also Help Food Workers?

New York Times – November 2014
Ban ‘Natural’ as a Marketing Label on Foods

Weavers Way Co-op – The Shuttle – October 2014
Fair Trade Certification for Food Made in the USA

Food Navigator-USA – September 2014
Food Justice Certified label aims to verify fair treatment of farm laborers, others in food chain

Takepart – September 2014
Sure, Organic is Great, but Where’s the Labeling Telling You How Farm Workers are Treated?

GreenStar Co-op – September 2014
GreenStar Named First Food Justice Certified Supermarket in North America

The Recorder - August 2014
Fresh Look at Fairness for Farmworkers

Tompkins Weekly – August 2014
Seeing the Faces Behind Agriculture

Small Farm Quarterly – July 2014
Cornell University, Small Farms Program – July 2014
First Food Justice Certified Farm and Food Stores in New York

Civil Eats – July 2014
Why Grocery Store Workers Are Making Less While Big Chains Clean Up

Honey Colony - May 2014
Hungry For Justice: A Filmaker’s Quest to Transform The Food System

Resilience.org – May 2014
Happenings – April 2014
Food Justice – What It Means and Why We Need it in Western New York!

Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) – April 2014
Food Justice Certified – A New Label for Food Justice

takepart – April 2014
Does Buying Organic Help Farmworkers?

City Market: Onion River Co-op – April 2014
The Search for Social Sustainability on the Farm

Slow Food Evenings: Understanding and Changing Our Food System – April 2014
April Slow Food Evening: Elizabeth Henderson, Food Justice and Slow Food

Community Alliance for Global Justice – March 2014
Confused About Ethical Labels on Your Food? Not this World Fair Trade Day!

KQED – Bay Area Bites – March 2014
Swanton Berry Farm, Bringing Justice to the Table

CAN – Community Agroecology Network – March 2014
“Beyond Organic: Narratives of Our Local Food System” Was A Success!

Just Food – March 2014
“Food Justice Food? Just Read the Label!”

CUESA – Cultivating A Healthy Food System – February 2014
Swanton Berry Farm: Bringing Justice to the Table

Agrarian Trust - February 2014
News In Farm Justice From Agrarian Trust Advisor Elizabeth Henderson

Half Moon Bay Review – February 2014
Pie Ranch Leads State with New Certification

Farm Fuel Blog – February 2014
2014 Fundraising Kick-Off for Farm Fuel at Pie Ranch

Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG) – February 2014
Food Justice Certified: Ensuring Equity in Organic Agriculture

Organic Consumers Association – January 2014
The Whole LOAF

Take Part – November 2013
Move Over, Big Ag: Sustainability’s Movement Is Here

Grist – 2012
Labor of Love: Domestic Fair Trade Grows

Food Day – November 2012
Got Food? Thank Food Workers!

Peninsula Press – August 2012
Serving Justice- New Food Label Certifies Workers Rights’ on U.S. Farms

Forbes – May 2012
Consumer Demand for Food Justice Labels: The Next Big Thing

Civil Eats – April 2012
The Conscientious Omnivore – April 2012
A Fair Deal for California Farm Workers

City of Portland Oregon – April 2012
Social (Justice) Network

Food Sovereignty News – April 2012
Food Justice Certified Label

Sustainable Food News – January 2012
Organic Farms First in Northwest to Earn Food Justice Certified Label

PCC Natural Food Markets: Sound Consumer – January 2012
Justice for Farmworkers

Groundswell: Center for Local Food & Farming – August 2011
Food Justice Certification Gains Momentum: Certifiers and Farm Worker Representatives Complete Training and Qualifying Exam

Food Freedom – July 2011
Food Justice Certification Gains Momentum

AJP Trains Certifier and Worker Organization Representatives
May 2011, in Eugene, Oregon

Bon Appetit – June 2011
Advice For Young Farmers From Swanton Berry Owners

Southeast Green
Food Justice Certified Label Rewarding Socially and Environmentally Sustainable Farms and Businesses
Download Southeast Green article in PDF

CtNOFA – May 2011
Food Justice Certified

Fair World Project – March 2011
Swanton Berry Farm Promotes Labor Rights and Fair Trade

Cooperative Grocer – February 2011
Questioning At Will Employment – Food Justice Standards, Coop Practices Diverge on HR Strategy
Download Coop Grocer article in PDF

The Daily Yonder – February 2011
Letter from Langdon: Labeling Sustainable

Cooperative Grocer Network – January 2011
Questioning At-Will Employment

AJP’s National Launch Press Release

Agrictultural Justice Project


In 1999, disappointed that the U.S. National Organic Program’s standards did not address the people involved in organic agriculture, Michael Sligh of the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI – USA), Richard Mandelbaum of Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas/Farmworker Support Committee (CATA), Oscar Mendieta, Fundación RENACE, Bolivia, Elizabeth Henderson of Peacework Organic Farm and Marty Mesh of Florida Organic Growers and Consumers began a stakeholder process to develop standards for the fair and just treatment of the people involved in organic and sustainable agriculture.

While their experience was in North America, they set out to create standards that could be adapted for use anywhere in the world. They began with a review of existing social standards and then assembled a first draft of what became “Toward Social Justice and Economic Equity in the Food System: A Call for Social Stewardship Standards in Sustainable and Organic Agriculture.”

They circulated this draft to organic farmers and organic farming associations, non-profits, certification programs, eco-labeling experts, and labor and farm labor organizations. CATA also engaged in an internal process through which the organization’s farmworker members provided input to the worker standards. For two years, AJP circulated successive drafts of their standards to stakeholders in the US and abroad and received comments from around the world. To make the document accessible to a wider audience, they arranged for translations into Spanish and French. With each major revision of the document they circulated the new draft to those who had commented on previous drafts, as well as to people new to the project.

From 2002 - 2005, the founders worked with stakeholders around the world from IFOAM Organic Trade Conference in Bangkok, Thailand to meetings with the International Union of Food (IUF) in Montevideo, Uruguay. Ambitious goals and commitments were set by these meetings. One commitment was to further develop strategies to advance the social agenda in organic and sustainable agriculture, and to build cooperation between the organic and fair trade movements - strengthening the voice and participation of indigenous peoples as an urgent theme. At the close of 2005, the AJP team committed to designing a pilot project to test the standards and their practicality in the U.S. marketplace. (Download full history here)


The Original Pilot – Upper Midwest Region

The Agricultural Justice Project team worked for several years to develop a U.S. Pilot project to test its social stewardship standards on the ground. Through outreach and collaboration, the group built relationships with farmers, retailers, non-profits, and farmworker organizations around the county who are interested in developing a model of a just food system. The AJP also convened a national Advisory Council representing a broad array of stakeholders to advise and inform the group’s progress AJP meets with this Advisory Council on an annual basis. During this time, Quality Certification Services (QCS) developed the application and inspection forms, report language, and confidentiality documents necessary for a social justice certification.

The first step in piloting the project was to do informal inspections of farms in four regions of the county. These exploratory audits confirmed that AJP standards are realistic: farmers expressed the ability and desire to meet them.

A “pre-audit” of several of the region’s exemplary farms and co-ops in 2006 revealed outstanding practices, but a lack of the type of documentation that would be required for verification by a certifier.

Over the following winter, the AJP team developed a toolkit of information and resources to help the farms and co-ops document their good practices.

In the spring of 2007, Quality Certification Services (QCS) and the AJP team conducted official pilot certification audits of four farms and two co-ops in Minnesota and Wisconsin, including Bluff Country Co-op, pictured here receiving their initial pilot certification.

The AJP Partners


Project partners Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA, Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas/Farmworker Support Committee, Northeast Organic Farming Association, and Florida Organic Grower and Consumers are leaders in the fields of sustainable agriculture policy, workers’ rights, community-based food systems, and organic certification. Each of the non-profit organizations in this unique partnership is grounded in decades of grassroots change-making and community-organizing.

The AJP Staff


Leah Cohen

General Coordinator
leah@agriculturaljusticeproject.org

Leah Cohen is the General Coordinator for the Agricultural Justice Project. She has a Master of Science in Human Geography from the University of Florida and graduated from Linfield College with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a minor in Spanish. Leah Cohen first became aware of working conditions within U.S. agriculture during an internship with Northwest Medical Teams International in 1995. As an intern she drove a mobile dental clinic serving migrant camps in northwest agricultural fields. After traveling abroad as a volunteer coffee picker for a Nicaraguan cooperative, she became grounded again in the farm worker conditions in the Southeast U.S. as a moderator of the 1998 University of Florida Sowing Seeds for Change Symposium session on “Where Farmworkers Live.” From 2000-2001 Leah conducted research as a fellow of the World Agroforestry Center on the impact of illness on farming and fishing household livelihoods in rural western Kenya. From 2004 through 2009 she consulted on monitoring and evaluation assignments for USAID Title II food security programs in Africa by Africare, the American Red Cross, Catholic Relief Services, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation, as well as serving as managing editor of the Africare Food Security Review. Her experience with the Agricultural Justice Project began in 2004 with development of the verification system for certification as a consultant for Quality Certification Services and continued with development of the certifier training module and workshop that trained the Midwest Organic Services Association, Inc. From 2009 to 2013 she served as the lead on the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SSARE) grant entitled “Improving the Lives of Southern Organic Farmers and Farmworkers.”


Alannah Kull

Standards and Policy Manual Revisions Coordinator / California Outreach Coordinator
alannah@agriculturaljusticeproject.org
Alannah Kull is the Agricultural Justice Project Standards and Policy Manual Revisions Coordinator. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems from the University of California, Davis and has worked on a wide variety of sustainable agrifood system policy projects as an organizer, researcher, and consultant. Past clients include American Farmland Trust, Wild Farm Alliance, Mathematica Policy Research, The California Institute for Rural Studies, The California Department of Food and Agriculture, and Rural Innovations in Social Economics (RISE), Incorporated. Alannah is based in Santa Cruz California where she was awarded a California State Legislature Certificate of Recognition from Assemblymember Luis Alejo for her involvement with the Bracero Memorial Highway Project. She received a travel scholarship from The Institute for Food and Development Policy to attend food sovereignty delegations in Oaxaca Mexico and she is the author of several publications on food and farming.

Chelsie Papiez

Communications & Outreach Coordinator
chelsie@agriculturaljusticeproject.org

Chelsie Papiez is the Communications & Outreach Coordinator for the Agricultural Justice Project. She has worked in the environmental field for 12 years with a focus ranging from climate change adaptation and policy to environmental education. Growing up on a small family farm in Olympia, Washington she is deeply rooted in the importance of our lands and the richness they provide when tended with care. She graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Botany and a Certificate in Wetland Restoration Ecology. She continued on to obtain a Master’s degree in Environmental Studies (MES) from The Evergreen State College. While at Evergreen she worked with two Native American communities to better understand the impacts climate change will have on traditional food systems. She began working for AJP in February 2013.