Steps to Become Food Justice Certified


1. Get Ready

2. Find an FJC Certifier

  • See our list of approved certifiers
  • If you are already certified organic, your certifier could become trained to offer AJP certification – reducing your certification costs by doing both inspections in one trip. Ask us how!

3. Request an Estimate and Application from Your Certifier

  • We provide technical assistance and can walk you through the application

4. Return Your Application to the Certifier

  • Your application includes a licensing agreement and a request for an affidavit asserting that your farm and/or other entities owned by you or associated with your farm have not had any labor violations.

5. Certifier will Conduct an Initial Review of Your Application

  • The purpose of the initial review is first to check that your application is complete, collect any additional information necessary, then review your documentation (such as labor policies) for any non-compliances.
  • If any non-compliances are found, your certifier will provide you with a list of these and a timeline to address the issue. When you have corrected the non-compliances and documented this for your certifier, the certification process will continue.

6. Public Consultation

  • Once your certifier has all the necessary information for your application to be complete, they will send your farm name and location to AJP. We will post this information on our public consultation page and collect any public comments. Your certifier will take these comments into consideration during their certification decision making process.

7. If Complete, Application will be Reviewed by Inspection Team

  • The inspectors, including a worker representative if your farm has hired labor, will review your application to familiarize themselves with your operation and streamline the inspection process.
  • See our list of approved worker organizations. Contact your certifier to find out which organizations they have already established relationships with.

8. Inspection Scheduled to Take Place On-Site. Inspection Steps Include:

  • Your certifier will schedule an inspection with you for a day when workers are present on your farm.
  • Initial meeting is held with workers and management present to describe the AJP standards and Food Justice Certification process
  • Interviews held with workers, interns and management
  • Visit of fields, facilities and any worker housing takes place
  • Inspector will conduct an on-site document review of any policies or employee files
  • Inspection team will hold on-site follow-up meeting to answer any questions
  • A brief summary meeting will be held with the farm owner

9. Certifier will Conduct any Necessary Follow-up Interviews

  • If scheduled employees are absent or if certain risk factors are identified your certifier will make phone calls after the inspection to conduct additional interviews

10. Certifier Issues Letter Detailing Non-compliances and Timeline

  • As in the step following the initial review of your application, your certifier will identify any non-compliances after the site-visit and provide you with a timeline to address these issues

Your Farm is Certified!

  • You are now licensed to use the Food Justice Certified mark according to our labeling requirements.

* Farmers are entitled to use the AJP Appeals and Complaints procedure at any point in the certification process.

About Food Justice Certified Farms

Farms of any size and type can become Food Justice Certified farms.

Businesses


Steps to Become Food Justice Certified

Certify your business in 10 steps!

1. Get Ready

2. Find an FJC Certifier

  • See our list of approved certifiers
  • If you are already certified organic, your certifier could become trained to offer AJP certification as well – reducing your certification costs by doing both inspections in one trip. To become trained your certifier must attend an official AJP training and begin our accreditation process.

3. Request an Estimate and Application from Your Certifier

  • We provide technical assistance and can walk you through the application

4. Fill out Application and Return to Certifier

  • Your application includes a licensing agreement and a request for an affidavit asserting that your farm and/or other entities owned by you or associated with your farm have not had any labor violations.

5. Certifier will Conduct an Initial Review of Your Application

  • The purpose of the initial review is first to check that your application is complete, collect any additional information necessary, then review your documentation (such as labor policies) for any non-compliances.
  • If any non-compliances are found, your certifier will provide you with a list of these and a timeline to address the issue. When you have corrected the non-compliances and documented this for your certifier, the certification process will continue.

6. Public Consultation

  • Once your certifier has all the necessary information for your application to be complete, they will send your business name and location to AJP. We will post this information on our public consultation page and collect any public comments. Your certifier will take these comments into consideration during their certification decision making process.

7. If Complete, Application will be Reviewed by Inspection Team

  • The inspectors, including a worker representative if your business has hired labor, will review your application to familiarize themselves with your operation and streamline the inspection process.
  • See our list of approved worker organizations. Contact your certifier to find out which organizations they have already established relationships with.

8. Inspection Scheduled to Take Place On-Site. Inspection Steps Include:

  • Your certifier will schedule an inspection with you for a day when workers are present at your business.
  • Initial meeting is held with workers and management present to describe the AJP standards and Food Justice Certification process
  • Interviews held with workers, interns and management
  • Visit of facilities and any worker housing takes place
  • Inspector will conduct an on-site document review of any policies or employee files
  • Inspection team will hold on-site follow-up meeting to answer any questions
  • A brief summary meeting will be held with the farm owner

9. Certifier will Conduct any Necessary Follow-up Interviews

  • If scheduled employees are absent or if certain risk factors are identified your certifier will make phone calls after the inspection to conduct additional interviews

10. Certifier Issues Letter Detailing Non-compliances and Timeline

  • As in the step following the initial review of your application, your certifier will identify any non-compliances after the site-visit and provide you with a timeline to address these issues
  • Once all non-compliances are addressed..

Your Business is Certified!

  • You are now licensed to use the Food Justice Certified mark according to our labeling requirements, section 2.1 in our Policy Manual.

About Food Justice Certified Businesses

Food businesses of any type and size can become Food Justice Certified, from restaurants to retailers to processors. The certification process looks at your business’ hired labor practices as well as contracts with other businesses and/or with farmers that you purchase from.

Tiered Labeling

Food Justice Certified uses three labels to differentiate between the number of certified "links in the chain" behind each product. To maintain integrity in our labeling system, we have specific requirements for when subcontracted processors must get certified to allow for a higher tier label to be applied.

Worker Organizations


The Role of Worker Organizations

Across the country we are lucky to have in place a network of organizations dedicated to defending and advocating for the rights of workers in any business operation. These organizations have expertise and sensitivity to worker issues that comes from years of experience.

The AJP partners wanted to engage this network not only as advisors in defining and developing the standards, but also as decision makers in certification and local support for certified entities.

Worker representatives play an important role in the certification process for Food Justice Certified farms and businesses. A worker representative visits the fields and facilities of entities seeking certification to conduct interviews with the employees along with the certifier inspector. The worker representative's input is built into the certification decision making process.

Worker organizations also have a lot to offer entities once they are certified. Through the inspection process the employer has an opportunity to develop a relationship with the worker organization, and can call on them in the future for health and safety trainings, legal rights trainings, and other requirements of the FJC standards. Worker organizations frequently offer needed services for businesses and farms, such as translation or mediation.

By involving worker organizations directly in the Food Justice Certification process we intend to strengthen community ties, build understanding between stakeholder groups, and increase local capacity to support employers and workers.

Worker organizations can become approved to participate in the AJP certification process by attending an official inspectors training and developing a relationship with an accredited and approved certifier. AJP offers a 3-day Inspector Training, if you represent a worker organization and would like to become involved in the Food Justice Certification process please reach out to us.

Worker organizations work directly with approved certifiers.

Current AJP Approved Worker Organizations:

Agricultural Workers Alliance
300-61 International Blvd
Toronto, ON M9W 6K4 Canada
Telephone: 1-877-778-7565
Email: info@awa-ata.ca

CATA – The Farmworkers Support Committee
P.O. Box 510
Glassboro, NJ 08028
Telephone: (856) 881-2507
Fax: (856) 881-2027
Email: cata@cata-farmworkers.org

Centro Campesino
216 Oak Avenue North
Owatonna, MN 55060
Telephone: (507) 446-9599
Fax: (507) 446-1101
Email: info@centrocampesino.net

Community to Community Development
203 W. Holly Street, Suite 317
Bellingham, WA 98225
Telephone: (360) 738-0893
Email: decommunidad@qwestoffice.net

Lideres Campesinas
2101 S. Rose Ave Suite A
Oxnard, CA 93033
Telephone: (805) 486-7776
Email: LideresCampesinas@hotmail.com

Farmworkers Association of Florida
1264 Apopka Boulevard
Apopka, Florida, 32703
Telephone: (407) 886-5151
Email: info@floridafarmworkers.org

Food Justice Pledge


The goal of Pledge certification is to help bring awareness to community gardens and small-scale, direct sales farms that grow and harvest locally with good sustainable agricultural practices and no hired labor. The Food Justice Pledge is a low-cost alternative that will help raise awareness of the domestic fair trade movement and the need for change within our agricultural system.

Is your farm or garden eligible?

Community gardens that produce food for participating community members and for direct sales to the community:

  • Through CSA memberships
  • Farm stands
  • Farmer’s markets
  • Internet sales.
  • Restaurant sales
  • Sales to local food coops

Small-scale farms that have no hired labor at all, and primarily engage in direct sales to the public:

  • Through CSA memberships
  • Farm stands
  • Farmer’s markets
  • Internet sales.
  • Restaurant sales
  • Sales to local food coops

Tools for Certifiers


Steps to Offering Food Justice Certification

1. Review this short guide for certifiers.

2. Read Section 4.0 of the Policy Manual, which contains information for certifiers regarding oversight requirements, training requirements, and the expectations for the relationship between certifiers and worker organizations.

3. Contact AJP staff to find out about trainings and getting ready to offer FJC certification.

Oversight for AJP Approved Certifiers

Certifiers that have up to ten FJC clients are oversee by AJP through an approval process, periodic onsite audits, annual report and case-by-case witness inspections of their FJC clients. These certifiers may carry out Food Justice Certification if they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with AJP, granting AJP oversight of the program and agreeing to participate in the full-scale accreditation process.

Certifiers with over ten clients are overseen by AJP through an accreditation process to the scope of the FJC Standards. This accreditation includes an application process, an office visit and witness inspections.

Resources for Approved Certifiers

Guidances for implementing the Food Justice Certified standards:



Current AJP Approved Certifiers:

Quality Certification Services, (QCS)
Main office:
214 W. University Avenue Gainesville Suite A, FL 32601
Phone: (352) 377-0133 / (352) 377-5017
Fax: (352) 377-8363
Mail: PO Box 12311 Gainesville, FL 32604
Email: qcs@qcsinfo.org

You can download applications for Food Justice Certification on QCS's website. QCS's fee for certification, inspection and final review can be downloaded here.

Your organic certifier can become AJP approved by attending an official AJP training and beginning our accreditation process. Contact us for more information.

Certifiers conduct inspections in collaboration with worker organizations for operations with hired labor.

Technical Assistance


AJP offers technical assistance to entities interested in becoming certified. We have three basic options to begin building your technical assistance package. All technical assistance packages are customized to meet your needs.

1. Desk Assessment
AJP completes a review of your documents and application materials, similar to what a certifier will do during the Initial Review step in certification. This is a low cost way to catch red flags before investing in certification.

2. On-Site Assessment
AJP completes a desk assessment as explained above, identifies any red flags, then follows up with a complete mock-inspection on-site at your facility or farm. This option is the most thorough and most likely to identify any non-compliances that a certification inspection would turn up.

3. Technical Support Throughout Certification Process
The client makes a deposit to purchase AJP’s support over email or conference calls at any point in their certification process. This is a particularly helpufl option for first-time certification of large groups.

Contact us for an estimated cost.

Certification & Licensing Fees


There are two sets of fees to consider when looking at the costs of Food Justice Certification:

AJP trained and approved independent certifiers conduct the Food Justice Certification process for farms and businesses. These certifiers set their own fees for Food Justice Certification. Please contact the approved certifiers for a quote.

Once the certification is awarded by a certifier, the certifier will send a bill for the Food Justice Certified licensing fee. This fee is sent directly to the Agricultural Justice Project and is used to support maintenance of our standards (which are always stakeholder driven and are routinely revised every five years), oversight of the certification program to ensure consistency across certifiers and regions, as well as outreach and education. Please see our licensing fee rates below and add this to the quote from the certifier. Licensing fees are calculated based on the total certification costs (i.e. Certification Fee + Audit Cost x Licensing Fee Rate = FJC Licensing Fee). Licensing fees are calculated by operation type at the following rates:



Click here for a printable version of the Licensing Fee structure. If you are unsure of where your operation fits in the licensing fee structure please contact AJP directly at info@agriculturaljusticeproject.org.