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 there are many regional grassroots based worker 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 at info@agriculturaljusticeproject.org.

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: C2Cinfo@foodjustice.org

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

Social Justice Fund & Cost Share Award



Download full impact report here.

How can we truly address food insecurity and injustice?

We are excited to announce our KICK OFF Fundraising campaign for offering FREE certification to smaller independent family and community farms and groceries. To date we have maintained a Social Justice fund by dedicating 5% of every general funds grant we have received, but we have only used it for family farms and small local grocers facing unexpected financial hardship. Over the last several years we have raised over $10,000. The cost of yet another certification has been a major obstacle to certifying for many farms who are historically at a disadvantage trying to compete in our current dominant corporate controlled food system. AJP intends to use the Social Justice Fund to support certification for these types of farms. We are specifically reserving funds for BIPOC-led farms, including immigrant farmworker-led farms.

Please consider contributing to the campaign and sharing this link with those that would be supportive and have the means to contribute as well!

~ with deep gratitude, AJP


Update Below!

abajo en español


December 2020: WOW!!! "Thank you to National Co+op Grocers for the generous donation of $10,000, specifically dedicated to pay for technical assistance and Food Justice Certification from Black, Indigenous, and people of color-led farms. This is huge and has pushed us over our original goal for the fundraiser!"

We know that words are not enough and that to address racial disparities in this country, we must invest actual resources in Black and Brown individuals, businesses, and communities. This generous donation from NCG is specifically dedicated to supporting Food Justice Certification and technical assistance for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led farms, including immigrant farmworker-led farms. Read more about it in NCG’s press release. Both Leah Penniman of Food Justice Certified Soul Fire Farm and Jennifer Taylor of Lola’s Organic Farm are quoted in the press release in support of AJP’s Food Justice Certification program and the benefit to people of color. These funds will provide access for BIPOC farmers to credible market differentiation that demonstrates their commitment to taking care of the people they work with, their families, and their communities.

Thank you to all who have contributed and shared the campaign! We have raised our goal, so please keep it up! We are growing justice and change in our food system.

....

deciembre, 2020: Gracias a los Tenderos de la Cooperativa Nacional por la generosa donación de $10,000, específicamente dedicados a pagar la asistencia técnica y la Certificación de Justicia Alimentaria de granjas de negros, indígenas y de color. Esto es enorme y nos ha empujado sobre nuestra meta original para la recaudación de fondos! "

Sabemos que las palabras no son suficientes y que para abordar las disparidades raciales debemos invertir recursos en las personas, empresas y comunidades de raza negra y marrón. Lea más en el comunicado de prensa de NCG. Tanto Leah Penniman de Granja de Soul Fire con Certificación de Justicia Alimentaria como Jennifer Taylor de la Granja Orgánica de Lola, se citan en el comunicado de prensa en apoyo del programa de Certificación de Justicia Alimentaria de AJP y el beneficio para las personas de color. Estos fondos brindarán acceso a los agricultores de BIPOC a una diferenciación de mercado creíble que demuestre su compromiso de cuidar de las personas con las que trabajan, sus familias y sus comunidades.

¡Gracias a todos los que han contribuido y compartido la campaña! Hemos incrementado nuestro objetivo, ¡así que por favor sigan así! Estamos aumentando la justicia y el cambio en nuestro sistema alimentario.


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 (Below you will find the full AJP Policy Manual).

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

Certifiers work directly with approved worker organizations.

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.


AJP is happy to announce that the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association is the newest Food Justice Certification certifier. See the full press release here.


Inserted in applying for Food Justice Certification? Visit OEFFA's website for applications, fee sheets and more.


Quality Certification Services is no longer an approved Food Justice Certified certifier.

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 identify non-compliances 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 for ongoing support from AJP over email or conference calls throughout their certification process. This is a particularly helpful 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.