The Agricultural Justice Project - Social Stewardship Standards in Organic & Sustainable Agriculture


Published on

Updated April 2008. The Agricultural Justice Project - Social Stewardship Standards in Organic and Sustainable Agriculture. Full Standards Document. The Agricultural Justice Project (AJP) is a multi-organizational initiative formed for the purpose of developing, piloting, and promoting a market-based food label for social justice and economic equity.

Published in: Technology, Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

The Agricultural Justice Project - Social Stewardship Standards in Organic & Sustainable Agriculture

  1. 1. The Agricultural Justice Project:Social Stewardship Standards inOrganic and Sustainable AgricultureFull Standards Document_____________________________________________________________________________________
  2. 2. Contact informationElizabeth Henderson, Northeast Organic Farming Association315 331 www.nofa.orgRichard Mandelbaum, Comite de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agricolas /Farmworker Support Committee CATA845 796 www.cata farmworkers.orgMarty Mesh, Quality Certification Services/Florida Organic Growers QCS/FOG352 377 www.foginfo.orgMichael Sligh or JJ Richardson, Rural Advancement Foundation International RAFI USA919 542 or www.rafiusa.orgContents 2008 Agricultural Justice Project. All rights reserved.Please visit our website for more information:www.agriculturaljusticeproject.orgUpdated 4/08
  3. 3. Table of ContentsExecutive Summary.......................................................................................2Introduction……………………………………………………….................................9Limitations of a Labeling Program..............................................................10Project Purposes............................................................................................11Next Steps .....................................................................................................12Definitions......................................................................................................13Background and Underlying Assumptions .................................................15General Principles.........................................................................................15Underlying Assumptions ..............................................................................15Part I. A. Farmer Rights and Buyer s Responsibilities .............................18Introduction ..................................................................................................18Contracts and Bargaining Process................................................................18Equity, price setting and other benefits .................................................….21Enforcement...................................................................................................23Part I. B. Buyers Rights and Farmers Responsibilities ............................25Part I. C. Indigenous Peoples Rights: ........................................................26Part II. Farm Worker Labor Guidelines.....................................................28Labor Rights ..................................................................................................28Wages and Benefits.......................................................................................32Housing..........................................................................................................35Health and Safety .........................................................................................36Interns and Apprentices ..............................................................................39Vision Statement……………………………………………………………………….…...41
  4. 4. The Agricultural Justice Project:Social Stewardship Standards in Organic and Sustainable AgricultureThe National and InternationalContexts for Social Justice LabelsThe Success of Organic and itsLimitationsWith the implementation of USDA s NationalOrganic Program, we have passed anotherimportant milestone in the long history of USorganic standards development. The organic label,the first mainstream marketplace identifiedproduct of sustainable agriculture and the motherof all US ecolabels , has much to be proud of:• Double digit growth for over two decades• Strong consumer confidence• Standardized national and internationalenvironmental and humane foodproduction and processing guidelines• Verifiable third party non governmentaland governmental certification andaccreditation systems• Marketplace rewards to farmers• Reduction in toxic pesticide use, whichlowers farmers and farmworkersoccupational health risks.This is progress. We should take pride in thepositive aspects of this achievement. Organic isthe new benchmark to which all other labels willbe compared. But with this success come thechallenges of dilution, co optation, andconcentration. There is also concern about howbest to ensure that the early adopters smallfarmers, farmworkers and indigenous producers inthe North and the global South can fairly benefitfrom the growth of both organic and ecolabelingstrategies.These challenges focus our attention on the workthat remains: addressing the issue of social justiceand ecolabels. Environmental and humanepractices alone cannot achieve sustainability in ourfood systems we must have justice.Rising Public Interest in and ConsumerDemand for a Socially Just MarketplaceThe public is increasingly attracted to goodsproduced under socially just conditions. This isevident in the growing popularity of both fair tradeand certified sweatshop free products. While bothof these programs have focused mainly onimported goods, chiefly from nations in the globalSouth, the two concepts also can and should befocused inward on domestically producedagricultural products.The Domestic Fair Trade Association was foundedin 2007 to organize food system stakeholdersaround the issue of justice in the U.S. food systemand in response to the growing market for sociallyresponsible goods. It is a collaboration of farmers,farmworkers, food retailers, processors anddistributors, non profits and civil societyorganizations to bring the principles ofinternational fair trade to bear on the challenges oflocal and regional food production at home.Current Projects in Social JusticeEcolabelsThe number of initiatives aimed at promoting anddeveloping aspects of social justice in agricultureare increasing in the US and abroad. In Thailand,the Green Net Cooperative is organizing entirevillages of small scale farmers to grow organic andfair trade rice and other products. Some organiccertifiers, including the Soil Association inEngland, Certi Mex in Mexico, Naturland inGermany, and IMO, have already developed socialguidelines. In the US, Equal Exchange haslaunched its first product line of domestic fairtrade goods.Agricultural Justice ProjectThe Agricultural Justice Project AJP is a multiorganizational initiative formed for the purpose ofdeveloping, piloting, and promoting a marketbased food label for social justice and economicequity. AJP represents a collaboration of RuralAdvancement Foundation International RAFIUSA , Comit de Apoyo a los TrabajadoresAgr colas CATA / Farmworker SupportCommittee , Northeast Organic FarmingAssociation NOFA , Florida OrganicGrowers/Quality Certification ServicesFOG/QCS , and Fundaci n RENACE, a Bolivianorganic producers association.The Agricultural Justice Project s standard settingprocess began in 1999 with the publication anddissemination of A Call for Social Justice inSustainable and Organic Agriculture, a preliminaryvision statement and model standards for socialjustice labeling. These model standards have beenwidely circulated and refined through aparticipatory process including a series of domesticand international forums and extensive publiccomment periods. The model standards arecurrently in their fifth draft, with additional reviewand revisions planned for 2008 2009.Background and VisionOur goal is to build a model of an alternative foodsystem by creating an economic incentive for
  5. 5. 5social equity and just working conditions throughthe establishment of a social justice food label.The vision of this alternative food system is one ofvibrant small family farms that provide well beingfor the farm family and dignified work for wagelaborers. The standards for such a label are basedon the complementary principles of economicequity for the farmer and just working conditionsfor the farmworker, resulting in a win/win/winscenario in which workers and farmers andultimately, buyers all benefit.We recognize that the development andimplementation of such standards will depend onthe equal involvement of buyers, farmers andfarmworkers. Consistent with this vision, our goalis to build and maintain a mutually respectful andsupportive relationship among the various parties.In this scenario, the farmer can count on a fairagreement or contract with at least minimum fairprices, and a well trained and consistent workforce. The worker can count on stable, dignifiedwork and just treatment. The buyer can rely ongetting high quality food products with addedvalue.The fundamental piece needed to support such aprogram is connecting a supportive publicconsumers with those who work the landfarmers and farmworkers . In general, thestandards are intended to be consistent with andto build on IFOAM principles on Social Justiceand the work of the International LaborOrganization ILO .General PrinciplesSocial Justice and social rights are integral aspects oforganic agriculture, processing, distribution, andretailing. In this document we specifically addressorganic farms, but these guidelines could be adapted fornon organic farms as long as adequate measures aretaken to address the use of pesticides and other toxicapplications not only as an environmental issue, butalso as a significant health and safety issue.IFOAM s Principle of Fairness:Organic Agriculture should build on relationships thatensure fairness with regard to the common environmentand life opportunities. Fairness is characterized byequity, respect, justice and stewardship of the sharedworld, both among people and in their relations to otherliving beings.This principle emphasizes that those involved in organicagriculture should conduct human relationships in amanner that ensures fairness at all levels and to allparties farmers, workers, processors, distributors,traders and consumers. Organic agriculture shouldprovide everyone involved with a good quality of life,and contribute to food sovereignty and reduction ofpoverty. It aims to produce a sufficient supply of goodquality food and other products. This principle insiststhat animals should be provided with the conditions andopportunities of life that accord with their physiology,natural behavior and well being.Natural and environmental resources that are used forproduction and consumption should be managed in a waythat is socially and ecologically just and should be held intrust for future generations. Fairness requires systems ofproduction, distribution and trade that are open andequitable and account for real environmental and socialcosts.Farmers RightsThe standards outlining farmers rights are basedon the principle that all contracts between farmersand buyers will be fair and equitable.These standards ensure the following:• Good faith negotiations on any contractwith a buyer, with payments to the farmerthat cover the cost of production of thefarm products plus a fair return on thefarmer s investment and a living wage forthe farmer. Should the buyer not be able toafford to pay an adequate price, fulldisclosure of financial records would berequired, as well as steady improvement asfinances improve.• Freedom of association and the right tocollective bargaining.• Fair Conflict Resolution procedure.• Contract specifications such as recapture ofcapital investment, anti discriminationclauses, prohibition of the termination ofcontracts without just cause, and profitsharing incentives.Farmworkers RightsThe standards outlining farmworkers rights arebased on the principle that all workers have theright to safe working conditions, just treatment,and fair compensation.These standards ensure the following:• Adherence to international laws protectingworkers, including ILO Conventions andUN Charters.• Freedom of association and right tocollective bargaining.• Fair Conflict Resolution procedure.• Living wages.
  6. 6. 6• Safe and adequate housing.• Health and safety protections, includingaccess to adequate medical care and a rightto know clause regarding pesticide use, withthe expectation that the least toxicalternative is always used.Buyers RightsThe standards outlining buyers rights are based onthe principle that all contracts between farmersand buyers will be fair and equitable.The standards ensure:• Fair and equitable contracts with farmers.• Buyers right to transparency of farmerscosts of production for the purposes ofdetermining fair prices.• Fair Conflict Resolution procedure.• Buyers right to require up to date farmercertification of all applicable products.Interns/ApprenticesIn addition, there is a short section pertaining tointerns and apprentices, in recognition of the vitalrole that interns have played in organic andsustainable agriculture. The standards are basedon the fact that interns are inherently distinctfrom wage laborers, and therefore have distinctrights and responsibilities.These standards require:• A clear, mutually agreed upon, writtencontract laying out the expectations andassuring the intern/apprentice that thefarmer will provide the desired teaching.• A fair stipend to cover living expenses.Indigenous rightsMost of the world s farmers are indigenouspeoples. An ecolabel that makes claims regardingsocial justice in agriculture needs to address theirunique concerns. The current draft of AJP SocialJustice standards includes a preliminary section onindigenous peoples rights. In 2008 and 2009 theAJP will be working with North AmericanIndigenous groups including White Earth LandRecovery Project/Native Harvest to elaborate onthis section of the standards.Implementation and VerificationVerification and implementation issues are ascritical as the standards themselves, in that strongstandards become meaningful only when strictlyadhered to. AJP verification includes theenforcement of contracts, including both buyerfarmer contracts and farmer worker contracts.Quality Certification Services is exploring a moreparticipatory model of certification thatincorporates community participation fromorganizations including Centro Campesino, afarmworker advocacy group based in Owatonna,MN. Local certifier Midwest Organic ServicesAssociation is also participating in audit visits.Important issues include ensuring that the farmeror worker in question will be protected from anyretaliation, as well as implementing an effectiveand timely conflict resolution process or grievanceprocedure.International WorkThroughout its thirty plus year history, theInternational Federation of Organic AgricultureMovements IFOAM had recognized socialjustice as a basic principle of organic agriculture,but included only brief guidelines on socialstandards in its Basic Standards for OrganicAgriculture. Influencing the further developmentof the IFOAM social guidelines became animportant goal for the AJP.To promote the adoption of AJP standards, and toinfluence other social justice labeling programsunder development, AJP convened a series ofinternational fora:• Washington DC, 2000• Victoria, Canada, 2002 pre IFOAMWorld Congress• Bangkok, Thailand, 2003• Montevideo, Uruguay, February 2005• Adelaide, Australia, September 2005 preIFOAM World CongressHundreds of representatives of organizations fromover sixty countries have participated in these fora.Workers, small scale farmers, fair trade companiesand organizations, indigenous peoples, consumerand retail representatives, and organic certifiers sitat the same table and achieve consensus movingus one step closer to ensuring that all stakeholdersrights are respected within organic and sustainableagriculture.Through IFOAM, the AJP team hopes to presenta functional, adoptable, and adaptable model of asocially just food system to the internationalorganic community. In June of 2008, theAgricultural Justice Project will be leading severalworkshops and co sponsoring a half day openforum on Social Justice in Organic Agriculture atIFOAM s World Congress in Modena, Italy.
  7. 7. 7Pilot Launch and Next StepsThe main focus of AJP s work over the last twoyears has been preparing for and implementing theregional pilot and label launch. The team hasdeveloped the documents and certification toolsrequired for the auditing process, and has builtrelationships with interested farmers, retailers, andfarmworker organizations in several regions aroundthe country. A national Advisory Council has beenformed representing a broad array of stakeholdersworkers, farmers, buyers, retailers, consumerrepresentatives, and others to advise and guidethe project.After pilot audits of farms, co op retailers, and asmall processor in three regions in 2006, theUpper Midwest was selected for the pilot launchand label rollout in 2007. The AJP worked withRegional Partner Local Fair Trade Network andother organizations to successfully launch pilotcertified product during the summer of 2007. In2008 the AJP will focus on growing the UpperMidwest pilot while providing training andcapacity building to the local network, includingLFTN, Centro Campesino and the MidwestOrganic Services Association.AJP Activities in 2008 2009 :Expansion of the pilot project in theUpper Midwest and into additional regions,including Canada.Building local inspection andimplementation capacity in the UpperMidwest.Stakeholder input to elaborate onstandards for retail workers and indigenouscommunities.Developing a protocol for differentproducer structures, for example growergroups and marketing cooperatives.Continued public outreach to cultivateinterest in the project and to identify futurepotential participants.Workshop presentations and half dayopen forum on Social Justice in OrganicAgriculture at the IFOAM World Congress inJune 2008.Ongoing evaluation of the pilot to identifylessons learned, challenges, and futureopportunities and improvements.Intended Outcomes of the Project• To develop a working, adoptable, andreplicable model of social justicecertification that effectively combines a highbar approach to social justice claims with apragmatic and functional implementationprogram. This includes developing thetools and trainings that farmers, buyers, andworkers will need in order to meaningfullyadopt such standards.• To positively influence the ongoingdiscussions concerning adoption of socialstewardship standards through thedevelopment of AJP standards which arerepresentative of a broad spectrum ofconstituencies, as described above. Wehope that through collaboration andfriendly dialogue, our work can have apositive impact on other programs currentlyin development.• To encourage existing certifying agencies,including organic certifiers, to adopt socialstewardship standards and to use our modelas a baseline. We invite any certifyingagency or other organization that isinterested to contact us.• To encourage organizations andcommunities that do not already havecertification programs currently in place toconsider the potential value to theirmembers of implementing such a program,using AJP standards as a baseline.ConclusionAt once we are both heartened by and concernedwith the current proliferation of food labels.Heartened, because of the tremendous benefitthat labels can bring to achieving environmentaland economic justice in the agricultural arena.Concerned, because comprehensive communityderived labels will, and to some degree already do,share the marketplace with labels that are far lessstringent and not necessarily representative of thecommunities they claim to represent.With the distribution of AJP standards and theongoing development of our pilot model, we aimto add our voices to setting the bar for suchclaims: What does it mean when a label makesclaims regarding workplace justice for agriculturalworkers, respect for the rights of indigenouscommunities, or economic equity for small scalefarmers? These are powerful claims, and they needto be backed up by comprehensive standards thatare adequately implemented and verified.
  8. 8. 8IntroductionThe implementation of environmental stewardship standards such as organic certification is nowwell under way. Developing ecological standards is and has been a monumental task, and yet, withfew exceptions, the development of standards intended to promote social justice for small scaleproducers, indigenous peoples, and farm workers has been neglected. Addressing the need forfarmers and farm workers to gain institutionalized rights and dignity in their workplace is vital tothe future sustainability of our food system. The fates of small family farmers, indigenous peoples,and farm workers are inextricably tied.A social justice labeling program would consist of three prongs: fair trade principles for thefarmer, strong labor standards for the worker, and protected rights for indigenous peoples.This document is an attempt to incite the debate and creative thinking needed to envision how sucha social justice certification program might work, and on what principles such a program ought tobe founded. The following standards could be incorporated into existing programs, such as organiccertification programs, or be implemented independently.We believe that the need to develop the social equity component of sustainable and organicagriculture is increasing due to rapid industry expansion, concentration, and the escalatinggovernmental regulatory bias against small-scale farmers and farm workers. Small farmers andhandlers need to find additional ways to differentiate themselves and preserve their market share inthe increasingly concentrated large-scale global organic market. These standards can be a neededtool to help stop the spread of unfair integrated contract agricultural models into organics.The rapid explosion of other eco-labels indicates that more and more people are realizing thataccess to food (and other products) produced under ecologically and socially just conditions istruly in their interest, as opposed to a system under which huge profits are made from theirpurchases, with only the smallest percentage of these profits returning to those who work the land.This surge in public interest and the continued lack of an institutional framework for farmer/farmworker standards and verification, lead us to develop these standards for a social justice label.Currently, small farmers in many markets continue to sell their product based on the prevailingmarket price rather than on clearly documented price/cost analysis. This will need to be changed toachieve a fair market. The enlightened self-interest of the buyer, retailer, and consumer is alsorequired for this market approach to be successful. A win/win/win scenario must be established forthis strategy to succeed. The small family farmers, indigenous peoples, and farm workers must allbenefit directly. The buyers must share the farmers risk as well as benefit from both increasedmarket share and market rewards for supporting small farms and farm workers. And finally,consumers must be able to find, trust, and support this social justice labeling in order for thesystem to work.These standards have been developed through an open process involving input and commentaryfrom individuals and organizations representing a wide spectrum of the food and agriculturalsystem. The four principal authors directly represent the sectors of small scale organic farmers,
  9. 9. 9agricultural workers, consumers, and indigenous communities. In addition, a broader spectrum ofstakeholders, including fair trade programs, trade unions, organic and other certification programs,and consumers, have provided us with invaluable comments and advice.We believe that the underlying strength of this document rests upon this fact: that it represents thevalues and objectives of the very communities for which it is designed, i.e. small scale farmers,agricultural workers, and the public (consumers). Indeed, we believe that any labeling or privatecertification program making claims to promote the welfare of a certain group or sector onprinciple should rely upon that sector for guidance and leadership, and/or otherwise ensure that itsstandards and program accurately reflect the needs and goals of that sector.Limitations of a Labeling SchemeWe recognize that a labeling program is only one of many strategies that can be adopted, and werealize its limitations. Such a labeling program would be challenging to develop. We are aware that acertain wariness exists, for instance on the part of somein the labor movement, who fear that such labels canundermine grassroots organizing efforts by deflectingpublic scrutiny. We agree that in certain scenarios, suchas large-scale corporate farms, unionization will in mostcases be the best method for workers to improve theirworking conditions. Likewise, for farmers contractingwith corporate agribusiness, grassroots organizing, andcollective action may be the only solutions.Private labeling programs must never be viewed as asubstitute for improvements in public policy. It would bea grievous error to imply that the marketplace alonecould adequately ensure social justice or the protection ofhuman rights. Indeed, it is the failure of manygovernments, in both North and South, to adequatelypromote social justice and respect people’s human rightsthat make private labeling schemes attractive in the firstplace. The adoption of such private initiatives does notjustify governments’ abrogation of their responsibility tomeet these needs.We are both heartened by and concerned by the currentproliferation of food labels. We are heartened because ofthe tremendous benefit that food labels can achievetowards environmental and economic justice in the agricultural arena. We are concerned by the factthat comprehensive community-derived labels will, and to some degree already do, share themarketplace with labels that are far less stringent and not necessarily representative of the communitiesthey claim to represent. Weak standards may in the end be worse than no standards at all.However, we believe that strong standards, rooted in internationally recognized human rights such asthe freedom of association – a so-called “high bar” -- can play a crucial role in the improvement ofconditions for both small farmers and farm workers. These standards work to “set the bar” for claimsAs an example, the United States isone of only four nations that haveratified only two of the eightInternational Labor OrganizationConventions considered the“Fundamental Conventions,”whereas 88 nations have ratified alleight, and another 81 nations haveratified more than two. Two of theeight conventions address forcedlabor (C.29, C.105), two addressfreedom of association (C.87, C.98),two address discrimination (C.100,C.111), and two address child labor(C.138, 182). Of this set, the U.S.has ratified only C.105 and C.182Indeed, the right to freedom ofassociation is denied entirely toagricultural workers in the U.S.under its federal legislation as well.It should, however, be noted thatmany nations that have ratifiedthese “Fundamental ILOConventions” have not adequatelyimplemented them. Ratificationalone cannot be used as ameasurement of a nation’scommitment to human rights.
  10. 10. 10of social equity: What does it mean when a label makes claims regarding workplace justice foragricultural workers, respect for the rights of indigenous communities, or economic equity for small-scale farmers? These are powerful claims and need to be backed up by comprehensive standards thatare adequately implemented and verified.Project PurposesThe purposes of this project are to:1. Positively influence the ongoing discussionsrevolving around the adoption of socialstewardship standards, through thedevelopment of specific language (thesestandards) representative of a broad-basedspectrum of constituencies, as describedabove. We hope that our work can have apositive impact, through collaboration andfriendly dialogue, on some of the otherprograms currently in development, such asthose of the SASA project (IFOAM-FLO) andthe Soil Association, among others. Webelieve that certain issues and areas have beenaddressed in these standards that either havenot been addressed, or not addressed in asmuch detail, by some of these other ongoingefforts, and that therefore we can providethem with valuable and complementaryinsight.2. Encourage existing certifying agencies,including organic certifiers, to adopt socialstewardship standards, and to make use ofthese standards as a base-line.3. Encourage organizations or communities thatmay not necessarily have certification programs currently in place to consider the potentialvalue to their members of implementing such a program and utilizing these standards as a base-line. (See Next Steps, below.)4. Provide guidance for organizations grappling with these issues in contexts other than labelingprograms.5 Inspire direct, honest dialogue among the diverse members of the sustainable agriculturecommunity on issues of economic equity and justice for small farmers, indigenous peoples, andfarm workers.Note on Global ApplicabilityThis project originated in the UnitedStates, and three of the fourprincipal authors are from the U.S.The fourth author representsindigenous small-scale producers inBolivia. We ask for understandingfrom those who may feel that partsof these standards do not apply totheir particular reality. We havestriven to achieve universality asmuch as possible in the language wehave used and have receivedextremely helpful advice andcommentary to this end fromdiverse individuals from around theworld, for which we are grateful.We believe that the principlesoutlined herein are applicable to awide variety of circumstances andregions around the globe as a basisfor the adoption of socialstewardship standards. Werecognize the complexity anddifficulty of this task and the manyunique differences across the world.We assume that much localspecificity will be required and thatthe details will need to be craftedbased upon the specific political andsocio-economic realities,agricultural products and systems,marketing arrangements, andspecific farmers, buyers, and farmworkers involved.
  11. 11. 11Next StepsThis document does not address the issue of inspection and third party verification, but instead focusessolely on the principles and standards themselves. Some form of a pilot program is the logical next stepof this project, as only an on-the-ground trial will provide us with the information needed to improveand clarify the standards.We welcome any certifying agency or other organization that may be interested in conducting such apilot to contact us. We also welcome any specific feedback on the implementability and/orinspectability of these standards (a pre-pilot “bench audit”).A well-thought out and culturally sensitive inspection and implementation methodology will be crucialto a program’s success. Although these issues are outside the scope of this document as it is currentlywritten, several components of implementation, such as a Conflict Resolution Procedure, are alluded toin the standards.Much of what is contained in the following standards canbe summed up as contractual obligations – between thebuyer and the producer and between the employer andemployee. Ultimately, a contract is only as good as itsprovision to resolve disputes that may arise betweenparties. Therefore, one key to successful implementationof any social certification program will be a functioningand fair Conflict Resolution Procedure or other similarprocess of conflict resolution. In the case of a breach ofcontract, the wronged party (whether it be farmer,worker, or buyer) must know not only his/her rightsunder that contract, but also how he/she can resolve theconflict. Such a process must be perceived as fair and unbiased by all parties, adequately efficient andtimely in the resolution of conflicts, and sufficiently protective against retaliatory measures in disputes;i.e. farmers must be protected from buyer retaliation and employees from employer retaliation.Lastly, the inspection or auditing process must adequately take into account social, cultural, andpolitical realities. For example, farm workers will often not feel comfortable disclosing sensitiveinformation to an inspector until a certain level of trust has been established. Techniques such as groupinterviews, while convenient for an inspector, will most likely result in little substantive informationbeing shared, compared to individual, confidential interviews. And, if workers do not feel adequatelyprotected by the certifier in their right to speak openly and freely with an inspector, then chances arethey will choose to not do so.These are but a few of the many complex challenges that will face a certifier in the implementation ofthe following standards. We mention them only to raise issues and not as any sort of comprehensivetreatment of the subject. These issues are not insurmountable, and many NGOs, trade unions, andothers have gained valuable experience in this area in contexts outside of labeling programs. For thisreason, we believe the most sensible and most effective approach for a certifier to take in itsimplementation process will be, whenever possible, to coordinate closely with and learn from existinglocal trade unions, farm workers’ organizations, and farmers’ associations.Worker protections: Many sociallabeling programs that currentlyexist grant farm workers the right tofreedom of association. Yet, if thecertifying program does not containclear provisions for what a workercan do if he/she is fired for trying toexercise that right, has this programtruly improved working conditionsfor that worker? Has it trulyimplemented its standards? Has itmet consumer expectations?
  12. 12. 12DefinitionsSuggested to add- consumer, contractor, farmer, farm worker, apprentice, intern, foodsovereignty, mentoring, minor violationBad faith - Intentional dishonest act by not fulfilling legal or contractual obligations, misleadinganother, entering into an agreement without the intention or means to fulfill it, or violating basicstandards of honesty in dealing with others.1Buyer - The broker, wholesaler, integrator, retailer, or processor to which the farmer sells. Buyers areboth the closest links to the farmer, as well as the buyers who take custody of the product throughoutthe food chain.Child labor - Full-time employment or any employment that interferes with schooling in accordancewith national legislation2, or the culturally appropriate educational needs of the children involved. Wedefine children as 16 years of age or younger.Collective bargaining - The performance of the mutual obligation of the employer and the employeesor representative of the employees to meet at reasonable times and confer in good faith with respect towages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment, or the negotiation of an agreement orany question arising thereunder, and the execution of a written contract incorporating any agreementreached if requested by either party.3Contract - Refers very broadly both to (a) terms and conditions of employment between the farmerand the farm worker, and (b) all written marketing agreements.Eco-label - Eco labels act as seal of approval and clearly identify products that havebeen produced according to specific guidelines.Eco labels inform consumersabout production practices and social issues in addition to productattributes.Employee - A person hired by the farmer or other party (refer to specific standards) to work on thefarm; i.e. a farm worker in the employ of a farmer.Employer - In the context of this paper, the farmer who hires the farm worker.Good faith - Honest intent to act without taking an unfair advantage over another person or to fulfill a1Adapted from The Real Life Dictionary of the Law, Gerald and Kathleen Hill, Publisher General Publishing Group, 19972This definition was developed by the Soil Association (UK). Its applicability internationally must be examined on acountry-by-country basis. For instance, we recognize that federal labor law in the United States allows children to work onthe home farm within certain limits, depending on the age of the child, and that to work on a farm other than the home farm,a child must be accompanied by a parent or guardian or have written permission from a parent or guardian. However, wefeel that current US law (such as the Fair Labor Standards Act) does not adequately protect the children of agriculturalworkers.3Adapted from the definition of collective bargaining in the National Labor Relations Act of the United States (NLRASection 8(d)
  13. 13. 13promise to act, even when some legal technicality is not fulfilled.4Indigenous peoples - Peoples native to a particular region, autochthonous.Farm labor contractor - Any person other than the agricultural employer, or an employee of anagricultural employer, who, for any money or other valuable consideration paid or promised to be paid,performs any recruiting, soliciting, hiring, employing, furnishing, or transporting any agriculturalworker.5Farm worker – This term refers to an employee of a farmer, and is used within this document as asynonym for employee (see below).Intern / Apprentice – A worker or laborer on a farm whose primary motivation in working iseducational and not economic. An intern or apprentice views his/her compensation for labor to beprimarily learning or knowledge, rather than wages.Major violation- An act resulting in immediate decertification.Minor violation – A violation of standards that must be corrected, but that in and of itself does notresult in decertification or disqualification.Small family farm - This definition still needs to be refined and will need to be crafted to fit the needsof small farmers in specific countries. For example, for U.S. purposes, the USDA/ Small FarmCommission has adopted a definition of small farms as farms with less than $250,000 gross receiptsannually on which day-to-day labor and management are provided by the farmer and/or the farmfamily that owns the production or owns, or leases, the productive assets. This comprises 94% of allU.S. farms. Despite, this high figure, the net income of these farms can still be below the US povertyline. 6Organic - Organic agriculture is a holistic production management system which promotes andenhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity.It emphasizes the use of management practices in preference to the use of off-farm inputs, taking intoaccount that regional conditions require locally adapted systems. This is accomplished by using, wherepossible, agronomic, biological, and mechanical methods, as opposed to using synthetic materials, tofulfill any specific function within the system.4Adapted from The Real Life Dictionary of the Law, Gerald and Kathleen Hill, Publisher General Publishing Group, 19975Revised from 29 U.S.C. §1802, Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers Protection Act of 19836A Time to Act, VII. Description of a Small Farm, p.28
  14. 14. 14Background and Underlying AssumptionsGeneral PrinciplesSocial justice and social rights are integral aspects of organic agriculture, processing, distribution, andretailing. For the authors, as for many organic farmers around the world and the hundreds oforganizations which have signed on to the IFOAM principles, Social justice and social rights areintegral aspects of organic agriculture, processing, distribution, and retailing.This document specifically addresses organic farms, but these guidelines could be adapted for non-organic farms, so long as adequate measures are taken to address the use of pesticides not only as anenvironmental issue, but also as a significant health and safety issue. These principles are essential:To allow everyone involved in organic and sustainable production and processing a quality of lifewhich meets their basic needs and allows an adequate return and satisfaction from their work,including a safe working environment.To progress toward an entire production, processing and distribution chain which is both sociallyjust and ecologically responsible.7Underlying AssumptionsThese standards are intended to guarantee minimally just working and living conditions for allagricultural workers, and minimally just financial returns, equity and fair working conditions for smallfarmers and their families. All parties involved are encouraged and expected to go voluntarily beyondthe following minimum, whenever that is possible.These standards will need to be "field-tested" and perfected.These standards are not intended for large-scale or plantation farms but as a tool for small farmer andfarm worker-friendly claims to help these groups add value and further differentiate their marketshare.In addition, consistent with the vision outlined later in this document, the goal is to build and maintaina mutually respectful and supportive relationship amongst the various parties (buyer, farmer, farmworker), rather than an antagonistic one. We envision a symbiotic relationship, in which despiteoccasional differences and disputes, the farmer, farm worker, and buyer are able to live full andrewarding lives. In this scenario, the farmer can count on a fair agreement/contract with at leastminimum fair prices, and a well-trained and consistent work force. The worker can count on stable,dignified work and just treatment. The buyer can rely on getting high quality food products.These standards are intended to be consistent with and to build on IFOAM principles on Social Justice,7Taken from IFOAM Basic Standards list of Principle Aims
  15. 15. 15and the work of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the InternationalCommitment of Phylogenetic Resources, and the International Labor Organization (ILO).8A just workplace depends upon the equal involvement of buyers, farmers, and farm workers, directlyor through democratically chosen representatives. To this end, any boards or other decision-makingbodies of a certifying agency must include significant participation of farmers and workersrepresentatives, equal to participation by representatives of buyers. All efforts will be made to includeparticipation of organizations representing farm workers and farmers, rather than merely public andprivate agencies providing services to these groups. In the case of workers, such representatives couldbe from unions chosen by workers on the farms to be certified or other local farm workerorganizations. In the case of farmers, such representatives could be from associations chosen byfarmers to be certified, or from other local farmer or indigenous people’s organizations.Participants in this program will be committed to continual improvement. In relation to workers,employers under this program are committed to continual improvement in matters relating to employeewages, benefits, housing, and working conditions. In relation to farmers, buyers under this program arecommitted to continual improvement in matters relating to pricing of farm products, contracts, benefitsand equity sharing. The farmer is committed continually to improve product quality, productionefficiency and environmental stewardship.Employers under this program will agree to comply with all existing national and local laws pertainingto agricultural workers, and buyers under this programwill agree to comply with all existing nationaland local laws pertaining to farmers’ rights. Such compliance would be verified during the inspectionand verification process by a certifying agency. The standards outlined below presume compliancewith all relevant laws as a starting point; the standards are intended as additional to any existing laws.A certifying agency, in reviewing any application from a farm or buyer, will consult with pertinentagencies to determine if any legal violations pertinent to either farmers or workers have beendocumented. Recognizing that laws protecting farmers and agricultural workers are in general weak,and that enforcement is often lax, the lack of such a record of violations will not be considered as apositive indication of the working or equity conditions. However, significant violations will disqualifyan applicant for certification.We assume that institutionalization of farmers’ rights to fair prices and equitable treatment iscontingent upon a Buyer’s Code of Conduct, which outlines responsibilities and practices that mustbe established and verified. We also assume that buyers have rights that need to be protected, and wefurther assume that both the farmer and the buyer need to be certified or engaged in some other form ofthird-party verification system. We urge the development of this code of conduct set of responsibilitiesand practices by the buyers, to ensure that these standards can translate into win/win marketplacerewards for all involved.These standards will have three sections: the first will cover farmers and indigenous rights in relationto buyers; the second, buyers rights and farmer responsibilities; and third, farm workers’ (includingchildren and interns) rights in relation to farmers as employers.While we have included a separate section to address the unique rights of indigenous peoples, we8This includes but is not limited to ILO Conventions 87, 95, 98, 105, 110, and 129
  16. 16. 16assume that the overall farmers’ rights section also applies to indigenous farmers and smallholders.
  17. 17. 17Part I. A. Farmers’ Rights and Buyers’ Responsibilities9IntroductionThis section of the guidelines establishes the intrinsic rights of farmers, regardless of the kind ofbuying arrangement in which they may be engaged. It covers both formal contracts and less formalmarketing arrangements. This section applies to both individual farmers and farmer groups, exceptwhere specifically stated otherwise.For the purposes of this document we are broadly interpreting the definition of “contract”. Theconcepts below may be implemented with great benefit even in situations in which no formalagreement or written contract is established.Contracts and Bargaining ProcessPrincipleContracts between farmers and buyers will be fair and equitable.Standards1. Freedom of association and collective bargaininga. Buyers must grant farmers freedom of association and the right to organize and engage incollective bargaining, free from retaliation of any kind by the buyer or his/her agents, asdefined and allowed for farm workers by ILO Conventions 87 and 98.b. Any legal violation of such a right or any findings of unfair practices is considered a “majorviolation” and results in revocation of certification of the buyer. Major violations include abuyer defrauding a farmer or a farmer violating the right to freedom of association of a farmworker. This is a farmer’s responsibility, but this section is about farmers’ rights.c. In the absence of such a legal right above, the certifying agency will verify that suchimplemented mechanisms responsible for ensuring the uncompromised exercise of thisright have been established.d. Farmers must not be barred by the buyer or the buyer’s agent from access to representativesof organizations assisting farmers in exercising these rights. Barring access is barred it isconsidered a major violation.2. Bargaining processa. The buyer will recognize and bargain with representatives chosen by the farmer ordemocratically chosen by the farmer’s association in the case of collective bargaining.9These guidelines were developed from the work of RAFI-USA, CPGA Contract Producers Bill of Rights, CATA Comitéde Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas social justice guidelines for farm workers, FLO for producers’ rights language,work of AOPEB Association of Organizations of Ecological Producers of Bolivia and others.
  18. 18. 18b. Where farmers are organized as a group, an association, or cooperative, collectivebargaining will be used. The buyer and farmer(s) will utilize the collective bargainingprocess to determine equity sharing, contracts, and other benefits and policies.c. Arbitration clauses are prohibited between individual farmers and buyers, since theyeliminate a farmer’s access to the courts even when a buyer may have violated state orfederal law.3. Conflict Resolution Procedurea. In the absence of a formal contract which provides for fair Conflict Resolution Procedures,mechanisms must be established to provide an equitable procedure by which farmers andbuyers can submit complaints and appeals to address concerns about unfair contracts andother equity/price-setting practices.b. Farmers will be protected from buyer retaliation for submitting such complaints.c. In the cases of farmer groups, unions, collectives, cooperatives, or other legitimateassociations, if either party claims that negotiations are in bad faith, a neutral arbitrator shallbe appointed to conduct binding arbitration proceedings between the buyer and the farmerorganization. This right also applies to individual farmer/buyers grievances.4. Long-term relationshipsa. Buyers and farmers will work in good faith to establish long-term and stable relationshipswhich provide mutual respect for the needs and rights of both parties. Any long-termrelationship will be confirmed through a written contract, which spells out the terms for:price setting, quality, quantity, shipping schedule, standards, and any pre-finance/creditarrangements. Both parties shall agree to the terms of the contract before the harvest seasonhas started.5. “Right to Know” and “Good Faith” clauses for farmer contracts and/or marketingagreementsa. Buyers must provide farmers with a copy of the contract defining the farmer’s roles,payments, benefits and equity-sharing arrangements. Contracts must be written in thefarmer’s native language or in another language accessible to the farmer. The informationmust be easy to read and understand and must clearly disclose all major material risks to thefarmer.b. The buyer must provide full transparency of their costs and pricing formulas.c. The buyer contractor must negotiate the contract in good faith by providing complete,accurate, and honest information to the farmer. This is required for both oral and writtencommunications between the contractor, buyer and farmer.
  19. 19. 19d. Farmers retain the right to seek recovery of damages if they are harmed by misleading orincomplete information.e. Any changes in the contracts or agreements must be negotiated. The buyers and farmersmust meet and negotiate in good faith. Violation of this contracting process is considered amajor non-compliance and grounds for revocation of certification.f. Farmers must have free access, upon request, to their buyer’s contract files and be provideda copy thereof upon their request.g. The buyer will be required to get approval from the appropriate governing official, whererequired by law, prior to offering the contract to farmers.h. The certifier must work in conjunction with locally appropriate representatives of ademocratically run farm organization or the farmers chosen representative to complete theirverification in a timely manner prior to initial contract or agreement.i. All attempts to keep farmers from discussing the contracts with others are forbidden.j. If the buyer goes out of business or files for bankruptcy, the farmer is first in line forpayments from the company assets. The buyer can not waive this right. The contract mustcontain a provision that guarantees the right to recover money from a buyer.k. Both the buyer and the farmer have up to three business days after signing the contract tochange their minds and cancel the agreement without penalty.l. The certifying agency or its agent will facilitate and verify that all of the provisions in thissection are implemented and must ensure that the presentation of these provisions by thebuyer or their agent was in the farmer’s native language or another accessible language.6. Recapture of capital investmenta. When fulfillment of a contract requires that a farmer or group of farmers make capitalinvestments and the buyer terminates the contract, if the farmer is not guilty of breach ofcontract with the buyer, the farmer can collect damages related to any significant capitalinvestment that was required as part of the contract.b. Unless alternative arrangements exist, if a buyer cancels a production contract before afarmer’s mortgage to engage in that contract is paid in full, the buyer must reimburse thefarmer for the remainder of his investment. This includes any buyer-required capitalimprovements or upgrades since the initial mortgage was obtained.7. Anti-discrimination clauseThe buyer shall not discriminate against any farmer, in setting agreements, contracts, pricing,benefits, or any other capacity, on the basis of race, creed, color, national or ethnic origin,gender, age, handicap or disability, union or political activity, immigration or citizenship status,marital status, or sexual orientation.
  20. 20. 208. Human relationsAll farmers must be treated with dignity and respect, without physical, psychological, verbal, orsexual harassment or other abuse.9. Direct farmer-buyer contractsa. Farmers or farmer associations will contract or establish marketing arrangements directlywith the buyer, whenever possible. Intermediaries such as brokers/subcontractors will beavoided. In the case of a documented need for the use of such an intermediary, the buyerassumes full legal responsibility that the provisions in these standards are fully compliedwith and verified.b. And such farmers using indirect contracts to their buyers must be afforded the same rightsas farmers who contract, negotiate and set agreements directly with the buyer.10. Termination of contractsa. No farmer/buyer agreements or contracts will be terminated without just cause.b. All farmers have the right, if they so request, to have a representative of their choosingpresent during any agreement or contract interview or renewal.c. Any farmer who is found through the existing Conflict Resolution Procedure to have hadhis/her agreement or contract unjustly terminated must be reinstated by the buyer and mustbe compensated for any loss of earnings during the period of such discharge action, asdetermined by the grievance proceedings.Equity, Price Setting, and Other BenefitsPrinciplesFarmers should receive at least a minimally fair price. There should be transparency in the price settingprocess. Price contracts cannot be used to undermine premiums.Buyers will be encouraged to increase prices to the farmer through measures such as sharing profitswith growers.Standards1. Fair pricinga. Farmers will receive a fair price which covers the cost of production plus a margin forprofit and investment.b. The price paid to the farmer will be based on:Documented farmer and buyer costs.
  21. 21. 21Where appropriate, the world price or regional price for that type of product, whicheveris higher.The product’s specific market qualities.c. The price for Organic, Fair Trade, or other added-value crops will be based on theapplicable price premium, and not a comparable conventional price for that commodity.d. The pitting of one farmer against another to drive down prices and the use of adiscriminatory ranking system for determining payments is prohibited. Any such retaliationor the spreading of false or misleading information by the buyer or the buyer’s agents shallnot be allowed.2. Minimum price premium protectiona. To protect farmers in markets experiencing extreme price volatility, minimum premiumprices will be negotiated by the farmer and the buyer that overrule market prices whenmarket prices fall below the relevant minimum premium prices.b. Minimum premium prices will not preclude additional price differentials based on quality,where such quality is documented in the contract provisions or where the market for suchproducts recognizes such additional qualities.c. The farmer and buyer will negotiate this price premium protection based on:The current world or the regional price, where appropriate and whichever is higher, forthat commodity.Documented farmer and buyers costs.e. The buyer shall guarantee to the farmer a minimum premium per unit, the floor price,which shall not fall below 5% above the current established market price for conventionalsmall farmer counterparts, 10% for eco-labeled small farmers and 15% for organic smallfarmers.f. In no case will prices fall below the prevailing price for the same commodity in the region.g. Minimum premium pricing protection will only be triggered when the documented marketprices fall below the above set minimum and where the participating farmers specificallyseek this protection.3. Credita. In countries where small farmer access to fair credit is not widely available, buyers willoffer credit to such farmers for up to 60% of their contract in the form of pre-financing orother mechanisms in favor of the producer, as long as these arrangements are deemedmutually beneficial and are not administered in a scale bias manner.b. Disbursement of credit shall take place upon signing of the letter of intent, the agreement orthe contract, or at any date after that which meets the needs of the farmer.
  22. 22. 22c. All credit instruments, direct and indirect, are allowed as long as the resources are madeavailable to the producers in an effective, reasonably-priced and timely manner. Interestrates and all other terms shall be clearly established in the agreement or contract.d. Other benefits such as profit sharing, company stock options, pooling of insurance, andother creative mechanisms for sharing equity are encouraged as long as they are mutuallybeneficial.4. Economic realitiesIt is recognized that in the current economy, small buyers will not always be able to pay a fair priceor offer all of the credit opportunities mentioned above. In such circumstances:a. The buyer’s inability to do so must be fully documented and justified, including fulldisclosure of financial records to both the farmer and the certifier.b. Actual prices will be determined through a negotiation process between the buyer andfarmer and/or the farmers democratically elected representative.c. A plan will be implemented to reach the goal of a fair price, and progress towards that goalwill be measured.5. Profit sharingPrices to the farmer will be increased with increased profitability for the buyer of the farmersproducts.6. Penalties and deductionsa. Provisions such as excessive docking for low quality and other unwarranted deductions areprohibited.b. Withholdings of payments is prohibited. Payments to the farmer must meet the terms of theletter of intent, the agreement, or the contract.c. Late payments to the farmer are subject to all local, national, and international laws as wellas possible fines, penalties, and interest accrual.EnforcementRecommendationMechanisms will be developed by which farmers of limited resources are able to afford the costs ofcontract dispute resolution.
  23. 23. 23StandardsAny buyer or farmer found to be in violation of the law will be responsible for court costs and attorneyfees. [NOTE: This provision is essential to helping farmers with a valid complaint engage a lawyer,while also protecting the buyer from unwarranted claims.]
  24. 24. 24Part I. B. Buyers’ Rights and Farmers’ ResponsibilitiesIntroductionTo achieve a win/win/win scenario for each of the parties involved, the unique rights andresponsibilities of the farmers, buyers, and workers must be protected and implemented. However, thecurrent paradigm is clearly weighted against the rights of farmers, even more so against the rights ofthe worker, and most especially against the rights of indigenous peoples. Therefore their rights havebeen spelled out in great detail based on the most common areas of abuse and where additionalprotections are deemed necessary. When attempting to codify the rights of buyers, it is essential toremember this historic imbalance.Furthermore, buyers’ agreements with farmers regarding specific products and their quality, quantity,and the timetables for delivery are not covered here. It is assumed, however, that abuses, complaints,or grievances about such matters fall within the rights of both farmers and buyers for the fairimplementation of agreements and their good faith execution.PrincipleContracts between buyers and farmers must be fair and equitable.StandardsIn addition to the buyers’ rights implied in the above farmers’ rights section these additional standardsapply:1. CertificationBuyers have the right to require up-to-date farmer certification of all applicable products.2. TransparencyBuyers have the right to transparency of the farmers’ costs of production for the purposes ofdetermining fair prices for farmers.3. Conflict Resolution ProceduresBuyers have the rights to fair Conflict Resolution Procedures as described in the above farmers’ rightssection.4. Anti-discrimination clauseThe farmer will not discriminate against any buyer, in setting agreements, contracts, pricing, benefits,or any other capacity, on the basis of race, creed, color, national or ethnic origin, gender, age, handicapor disability, union or political activity, immigration or citizenship status, marital status, or sexualorientation.
  25. 25. 25Part I. C. Indigenous Peoples RightsIntroductionThe rights of farmers in Part I. A. are fully extended toindigenous farmers. However, this section providesprovisions which are unique and essential for establishingfair and equitable trade with indigenous peoples.In 1985, FAO acknowledged the rights of farmers andindigenous communities.PrinciplesIt is critical to address the rights of indigenous people to haveaccess to land for cultivation, to maintain and freelyexchange seeds, to retain control over their germplasm, andto strengthen their systems of knowledge and production.The rights of farmers and indigenous peoples must beacknowledged in a manner that is congruent with the Convention on Biological Diversity.The right to food sovereignty is a component of international rights. It is the basic principle by whichthe acknowledgement of the past, present, and future contribution to agricultural diversity by localcommunities and indigenous peoples is sustained.RecommendationsBuyers will not require farmers to use GMO varieties, production materials, or methods which involveGMOs.Buyers will not commit biopiracy by establishing market control over products that were developed byindigenous peoples.When purchasing from indigenous farmers, buyers will disclose full financial information about allphases of the chain of production and distribution from the farmer to the final consumer.Oscar Mendieta contributed thissection after attending a meetingwith the other three authors inWashington, D.C. The refusal of theCanadian government to grantOscar a visa prevented a secondface-to-face meeting with atranslator present in Victoria,Canada, where further discussion ofhow to develop the details of thissection would have taken place. Asa result, we have not tried to codifythese rights into specific standards.We welcome comments andsuggestions for how to create aprocess for representativeparticipation from a wider group ofindigenous peoples.
  26. 26. 26The Rights of Indigenous PeoplesThe following must be guaranteed:1. The right to their territories and lands.2. The right to food sovereignty (which includes food security and food production).3. The right to water.4. The right to maintain, protect, and conserve their traditional knowledge.5. The right to conserve their culture and cosmic vision.6. The right to maintain, control, and develop their germplasm, local varieties, and seeds.7. The right to participate in a fair and equitable manner in the benefits generated byaccess to their genetic resources (patents, registered products, etc.).8. The right to say NO to any attempts to commercialize their genetic and intellectualresources (cultural objections).9. The right to participate at the local, national, and international level.10. The right to recognition of their techniques, technologies, and local processes ofinnovation.11. The right to guaranteed access to markets.12. The right to access a broad genetic pool.13. The right of access to information about their materials, when this is found at anyother site.14. The right to guaranteed economic and financial support to develop their resources.
  27. 27. 27Part II. Farm Worker Labor GuidelinesThese guidelines were compiled utilizing the following documents:International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) Social Justice PrinciplesInternational Labor Organization (ILO) Conventions , including but not limited to Conventions#87, #95, #98, and #105Social Accountability SA8000 standardsNegotiated contracts of the Kaolin Workers Union (affiliate of the United Mushroom andAgricultural Workers Union)Guidelines of the Food AllianceEco-OK StandardsPrincipleAll workers have the right to safe working conditions, just treatment, and fair compensation.Labor RightsRecommendationsInternational norms for socially just working conditions will be complied with, including but notlimited to all ILO Conventions relating to labor welfare, as well as the United Nations Charter ofRights for Children and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.Standards1. Freedom of associationa. All workers will be granted the rights to freedom of association, to organize, and to bargaincollectively, free from retaliation of any kind by the employer or his/her agents, as defined byILO Conventions 87 and 98. Any such retaliation will be considered a major violation.b. In the event that workers are granted these rights by law in the nation or region under question,any judicial or governmental findings of unfair labor practices will be considered a majorviolation.c. Workers with claims of employer retaliation for the exercise of these rights shall have access toan efficient and fair Conflict Resolution Procedure implemented by the certification body thatcertifies the farm on which the alleged problem occurs, to resolve the dispute in question.1010Such Conflict Resolution Procedure must be designed to comply with ISO Guide 65 – The Complaints Procedure, inaddition to the provisions specified herein.
  28. 28. 28d. Access must not be denied to representatives of labor organizations assisting workers inexercising these rights, so long as such visits are during non-work hours.e. The employer will recognize and bargain with any and all representatives democraticallychosen by their employees.2. Bargaining processa. The employer will recognize and bargain in good faith the terms of employment with (a) anyemployee, in the case of a single hired worker, (b) any group of employees, in the case of morethan one hired worker, or (c) any and all representatives democratically chosen by theiremployee(s). All references to bargaining and bargaining rights contained in these standardsshall be interpreted to apply to one of the three above categories, as appropriate in eachparticular case.b. Contracts between employer and employee mustrequire use of the collective bargaining process(except in the case of a single employee) to determineworkplace policies.c. Contracts between employer and employee willcontain requirements for all disputes to be handled ina speedy fashion with imposition of penalties foractions conducted without “good faith.”d. In the event that employees have elected to haveunion representation:The employer and employees will utilize thecollective bargaining process to determineworkplace policies, conditions, and compensationthroughout a contract.If either party is found to be negotiating in badfaith, a neutral arbitrator will be appointed toconduct binding arbitration proceedings betweenthe employer and the labor organization.3. Conflict Resolution ProcedureWorkers who have claims against their employer relatedto workplace practices, including employer retaliation forworkers’ submission of complaints, will be able topresent their case through the Conflict ResolutionProcedure implemented by the certification body thatcertifies the farm on which the alleged problem occurs.Collective Bargaining is universallyrecognized as a fundamental meansto achieving fair contracts inagriculture as well as otherindustries. However, bargainingrights must be ensured forindividuals as well, whether they befarmers or workers. When theimplementation of a contract breaksdown, an arbitration procedure is oneviable option for ensuring a rapidand impartial resolution. This is incontrast to utilizing the court systemfor instance, which in manycountries (such as the U.S.), canoften delay any final decision foryears, at which point it is difficult ifnot impossible to remedy the wrongthat had been done. Arbitration is acontroversial subject, in that it hasbeen used against farmers incontracts of adhesion – “take it orleave it” contracts that favor buyersover farmers to an excessive degree.In the case of an unfair contract,arbitration will most likely result inan unfair outcome. In the context ofa contract bargained in good faithand based on the principles outlinedin this document, arbitration is aninvaluable tool for both sides.
  29. 29. 294. Transparency and Full Disclosurea. Employers will provide farm workers with a copy of the contract defining working conditions(and living conditions if provided with on-site housing) and the disciplinary procedures that arefollowed in the workplace. Contracts must be written in the farm worker’s native language or inanother language accessible to the farm worker. Adequate provisions such as oral presentationsmust be made for any workers who are not fully literate.b. Any subsequent changes in this contract will be negotiated with democratically chosen workerrepresentatives.c. Workers will have free access, upon request, to their own employee files. Farmers will provideworkers with a copy of their own employment records upon request.d. Workers will be provided documents, in their native language, or if not possible, in a languagein which they are fully fluent, detailing their rights and responsibilities, as well as otherprovisions granted by these standards. The certifying agency will ensure or otherwise arrangefor a presentation of these provisions, in the worker’s native language, or if not possible, in alanguage in which they are fully fluent, and whenever possible in conjunction withrepresentatives of a farm worker union or other farm worker organization, in a timely mannerafter initial employment.e. Farmers will present information to workers orally to ensure that workers understand theiremployment contract and any other work-related written documents.5. Anti-discrimination clausea. Neither the employer or the union or other employee organization, if such exists, willdiscriminate against any employee or prospective employee, in hiring, wages, benefits, or anyother capacity, on the basis of race, creed, color, national or ethnic origin, gender, age,handicap or disability (including HIV status), union or political activity, immigration status,citizenship status, marital status, or sexual orientation.6. Human relationsa. All employees will be treated with dignity and respect.b. No physical, psychological, verbal, or sexual harassment or abuse is tolerated.7. Direct hiringa. Employees will be hired directly by the farm owner.b. Intermediaries such as labor contractors will be avoided. They are to be used only when allother possibilities are exhausted or when unforeseen emergencies arise.
  30. 30. 30c. In such situations, the employer will first seek to work collaboratively with an organizationrepresenting agricultural workers, rather than a labor contractor.d. Farmers will document the circumstances that forced them to use labor contractors and presentthis information for verification by the certifier.e. In the case of a documented need for the use of a labor contractor, the employer will follow allpertinent laws, including but not limited to the licensing of contractors.f. When using labor contractors, the employer will assume full responsibility for any and allworking conditions, that the provisions in these standards be fully implemented, and that theworkers supplied through labor contractors are hired under the same conditions as otheremployees.8. ComplianceThe Employer will not engage or participate in voluntary programs or practices that prevent orprohibit full compliance with the standards set forth in this document.9. Terminationa. No worker will be disciplined or terminated without justcause.b. Upon the worker’s request, the worker has the right to have aunion representative or other worker representative of theirchoosing present during any disciplinary interview.c. Any worker who is found to have been disciplined ordischarged unjustly through use of the Conflict ResolutionProcedure of the certification body that certifies the farm bywhich the worker is employed, will be reinstated and will becompensated for loss of earnings during the period of therelated discharge or disciplinary action.10. Training in legal rightsa. In a timely manner after initial employment, the employerwill conduct, or otherwise provide for, training of his/heremployees regarding their legal rights.b. If not conducted by the farmer, such training will beconducted by local farm worker unions or otherorganizations, or in their absence, legal services or similaragencies.One example of such a voluntaryprogram in the United States isthe H-2A or guestworkerprogram, used by agriculturalemployers to contract seasonalforeign workers, primarily fromMexico. In its current form, theH-2A program simply does notprovide workers enough legalprotections to allow a non-governmental initiative such asthis one to function properly. Forexample, an H2A worker whofeels he/she has been firedunjustly has no effective right toremain in the U.S. to participatein a Conflict ResolutionProcedure such as the onerequired by these standards.Furthermore, some of the wagedeductions stipulated under H-2Awould also violate provisions ofthese standards. It is possible thatin the future the guestworkerprogram will be replaced ormodified by legislation thatrespects workers’ rights to asufficient degree to amend thisprovision. Other voluntaryprograms in the U.S., as well asprograms in other nations, mustbe evaluated on a case-by-casebasis.
  31. 31. 31Child laborRecommendationWorking with nurturing adults as their mentors is thetraditional way that children or young people learn thecomplex craft of farming, and for this reason the developmentof mentoring programs for children should be encouraged. Thecertifier must develop a meaningful method for distinguishingchild labor from the mentoring of children who belong to thefarm family, are related to farm workers, or come from thelocal community.Standardsa. Hiring children for full-time labor on the farm isprohibited.b. Under no circumstances may children be given tasksthat expose them to hazards or potential hazards such asagricultural chemicals or machinery while on the farm.c. Children will not be kept from schooling in order towork on the farm; the employer must facilitate theattendance of schooling programs by children ofemployees.d. The employer will provide for care of children ofemployees who are present on the farm while theirparents are working on the farm.Wages and BenefitsRecommendationsEmployees will receive a living wage. A living wage is the net wage earned during a country’s legalmaximum work week, but not more than 48 hours, that provides for the needs of an average familyunit (nutrition, clothing, health care, education, potable water, child care, transportation, housing, andenergy) plus savings (10 percent of income).11In addition, social security obligations will be met, including benefits such as maternity, sickness, andretirement benefits.12Employers will be encouraged to adopt measures such as employee profit sharing in order to fulfill theexpectations outlined herein.11Definition adopted by Living Wage Summit, July 1998, Berkeley, CA; citation from “Codes of Conduct: From CorporateResponsibility to Social Accountability”, by Lynda Yanz and Bob Jeffcott, Maquila Solidarity Network, Sep 199912As recommended by IFOAM.Child Labor: This is a subject forwhich we have so far failed to findlanguage that we consider satisfactory.Therefore, we ask for guidance in theform of comments, critique, andsuggestions regarding child laborguidelines. We agree that childrenshould never be exploited as farmlabor. However, we also agree thatthere is a deep value to children being“on the farm” People should be free tobring up their children as farmers, andchildren can benefit from beingparticipants in farm life, as long astheir labor is not exploited. Guidelinesshould probably differentiate childrenof the farm family from children ofemployees, but many questionsremain. How are we defining “child”?What about children from thecommunity? For example, in aCommunity Supported Agriculture(CSA) situation, these children canbenefit tremendously from being anactive part of the farm of which theirfamily are members. What about smallfarms in the Global South where thelabor of an older child may make itfinancially possible to educateyounger children?
  32. 32. 32Employers should encourage the increased participation and responsibility of employees on the farmand provide wages and benefits commensurate with such increased responsibility.Standards1. Economic RealitiesIn the current economy, small agricultural producers will notalways be able to pay a living wage. When this occurs:a. Employers must document and justify their inabilityto pay a living wage to their employees.b. Employers must fully disclose their financial recordsto facilitate verification of their financial status. Suchfinancial records must be made available to both thecertifier and to employees and/or their chosenrepresentatives.c. Actual wages must be determined through anegotiation process between the employer anddemocratically chosen representatives of employees.In no case will wages fall below prevailing wages for equivalent work for that region. This,however, shall be viewed as a floor only justified by short-term economic hardship, andwages will be expected to increase.In no case will the ratio of lowest paid employee to highest paid (including the farmowner/employer) be greater than one to four, inaccordance with principles of a democraticworkplace.d. The employer must implement a plan to reach thegoal of a living wage and, with participation ofworkers and/or their representatives, develop aprocess by which progress towards that goal ismeasured.e. Wages of employees shall increase with increasedprofitability (net income) of the farm.2. Right to benefitsa. Employees are entitled to workers compensation,disability, and unemployment coverage.3. Day of restEmployee pay rations: We do notknow if this ratio per se is the best topropose. For one thing, theapplicability of this specific ratio tothe reality in other nations,particularly low-income nations, mustbe evaluated. However, we affirm theprinciple behind this standard asuniversally applicable and desirable.In the case of the U.S., we believe thaton most small-scale farms this ratioprobably exists already or is close toexisting. Only on large-scale farmswith multiple tiers of hierarchy –which are not the objects of theseguidelines--do we believe that thisbecomes a “politically” unrealisticgoal.Benefits: The issue of benefits,particularly in the internationalcontext, is complex. Adequatecompensation to a worker injured onthe job is a fundamental human right.The question is, in countries in whichthis right is not guaranteed, howwould such programs beadministered? In the U.S. for instance,agricultural workers are entitled tofewer benefits than workers in otherindustries under government programssuch as unemployment coverage. Inaddition, it will be necessary toaddress the unique needs of veryshort-term workers (day workers forinstance) vis a vis the granting ofbenefits.
  33. 33. 33a. All employees are entitled to at least one day of rest out of every seven.b. Employers may not normally require a worker to work more than an average of 48 hoursper workweek, with the understanding that such a requirement will occasionally benecessary. Work beyond this average on an ongoing basis (more than for brief harvestperiods, for instance) must be agreed to by the worker on a voluntary basis.c. Employers must develop an overtime policy in negotiations with democratically chosenworker representatives, with the understood goal of providing overtime pay to employeeswho work in excess of this average.4. Senioritya. Employers shall implement a seniority policy for those workers continuously employed andthose who return for successive seasons.5. Equal pay for equal or equivalent worka. All workers performing the same task will be paid the same wages. (NOTE: This clauseshall not prohibit the employer from developing pay scales based upon seniority as outlinedabove or based upon productivity or other measurable indicators that are documented by theemployer.)6. Right to return to seasonal positiona. In the case of seasonal employment, workers musthave the right to return for employment insuccessive years or seasons, in accordance withseniority, unless the employer can providejustification for denying re-hiring.7. Penalties and deductionsa. Provisions such as initial deposits, excessive andunwarranted deductions, or withholdings of any payuntil the end of the season are prohibited.138. Leave of absencea. Workers must be granted unpaid leaves of absenceof appropriate length for maternity leave or medicalor family emergencies.13As defined in ILO Conventions #95 (Protection of Wages) and #105 (Abolition of Forced Labor).Overtime: This issue has not been fullyresolved, and perhaps cannot be excepton a farm-by-farm basis. We recognizethat farm work currently involves longhours for low pay for small farmers andfarm workers alike, and recognize thedifficulty in reaching this goal as amatter of practical reality. So long asfarm work is undervalued in our society,both groups will continue working suchlong hours “voluntarily,” because of theneed to make a minimum income tosurvive. Our experience in the U.S. isthat farm workers will most often chooseto work all hours offered to them, far inexcess of 48 hours per week, due toeconomic desperation. A trulysustainable and just agricultural systemwill not require such long hours to beworked by farmers or farm workers.These standards intend to promote somemovement in that direction.
  34. 34. 34HousingRecommendationAll employer-provided housing must be safe and sanitary. Housing must conform to governmentregulations where they exist.Standards1. Tenants Rightsa. Workers living in employer-provided housing must be provided full visitation rights, i.e.the right to receive visitors of their choosing. Such visitors might include but are not limitedto friends, family members, representatives of unions or other organizations promoting thewelfare of workers, or health care workers. Note: This provision does not preclude theemployer from developing reasonable rules for on-site housing designed to preventunlawful tenants, or to limit noise or other disturbances to neighbors and/or other residents.b. Workers living in employer-provided housing have a right to privacy. The employer/ownerhas a right to inspect and enter the housing for the purposes of routine maintenance and/orrepairs, but must whenever possible notify residents beforehand. Such work must be donewith a minimum of disturbance to any personal belongings.c. Workers who are terminated from employment before the time period specified by theiremployment contract and who choose to appeal such termination through the ConflictResolution Procedure will retain the right to remain in employer provided housing while theappeal is pending.2. Protection from contaminationa. Employers must provide a buffer zone between worker housing and fields or other areaswhere potentially hazardous substances are applied or stored. (Employers who documentthat absolutely no hazardous substances are used, including those that are approved for useon certified organic farms, are exempt from the requirement to provide a buffer zone.)b. This buffer zone must protect housing and water supplies from drift, direct application, andcontamination from agricultural chemicals.3. Fair renta. Where rent is charged to workers (in localities in which this practice is legal):Rent must never be higher than rates charged in the local market for equivalent housing.Wages must be sufficient to justify charging rent.Rents must not compromise the stated goal of providing each worker a living wage.
  35. 35. 35Health and SafetyThese standards will be used in the context of organic production practices. Even on organic farmssome natural materials, such as rotenone, and sulfur, can cause irritation and health related problems.For application of these Social Justice standards to conventional farms, more explicit standardsregarding the use of agri-chemicals and other hazardous substances on the farm must be developed.PrincipleFarmers must protect the health and safety of all farm workers by minimizing exposure to pesticidesand other harmful agricultural inputs.RecommendationThe employer should make every effort to involve workers and their representatives in the addressingof health and safety concerns. For instance, wherever possible employers should facilitate theconducting of health and safety trainings by qualified farm worker unions or similar organizations, orin coordination with such organizations.Standards1. Safe workplaceThe employer must provide a safe and sanitary working environment, and develop a health andsafety plan consistent with the specific nature of the workplace.142. Safety traininga. Employers must provide timely trainings for workers regarding workers’ legal rights relatedto worker protection, pesticide safety, and requirements for sanitation and food safety.b. Employers must conduct safety training before new employees are exposed to any potentialtoxins or workplace hazards.3. Access to medical carea. Workers must have access to adequate medical care of their choice.b. The employer is responsible for providing transportation for workers to medical care, or forfacilitating the timely arrival of medical personnel to the farm to care for employees.4. Rest and sanitary facilities14Protection from hazardous employment is outlined in ILO Convention 138.
  36. 36. 36a. Employers must allow workers sufficient breaks to allow for periodic rest, consumption ofwater, use of sanitary facilities, and the prevention of heat-related ailments.b. Employers must provide field sanitary facilities.c. Employers must provide safe and clean water to workers for consumption, hand washing,and household use.5. Accident ratea. An accident or injury rate higher than the average for similar operations in the region isunacceptable and must be fully explained to the certifier.b. In such a case the employer must develop a comprehensive plan to lower the accident ratein an efficient manner. The timely implementation of this plan will be monitored by thecertifier.c. Employers must document all workplace accidents and injuries and retain such records forat least five years after the date of the incident.6. Reduction of accidentsa. Employers must demonstrate a commitment to continual reduction of the injury andaccidents rate in the workplace.7. Health and Safety Committeea. Employers must maintain a Workplace Health and Safety Committee which meets regularlyto address relevant issues.b. In the absence of union representation, employee representatives on the committee must bechosen democratically by employees.c. Members of the committee must have free access to all documents and informationpertinent to issues of health and safety, as long as such access does not violate the privacyrights of any individual employee.d. On those farms with only one or two employees, employers will meet regularly with suchemployee(s) to address workplace health and safety in the manner described above. Theright to access documents and information as described above applies equally to suchemployee(s).8. Right to know about toxic materialsa. Employers must provide information to workers about the hazardous and toxic materialsused in their workplace including but not limited to agricultural chemicals and geneticallymodified organisms.
  37. 37. 37b. Employers must provide workers with unimpeded access to label information and otherwritten information in their possession pertaining to the potential toxicity of materials usedin the workplace.c. Provisions such as oral presentations must be made for workers who are not fully literate orunable to read the information in the language provided.9. Least toxic alternativea. If hazardous or toxic substances (including agricultural chemicals and/or geneticallymodified organisms) are used in the workplace, the employer must provide writtendocumentation about why less toxic alternatives have not been implemented.b. The employer must implement a plan to steadily reduce the use of hazardous and toxicsubstances and replace them with proven non-toxic alternatives. Note: The certifier mayexempt from this requirement any farmer whose use of hazardous and toxic substances isalready minimal or non-existent.10. Retention of injured workersa. Employers must make every effort to maintain the employment of workers who are injuredon the job by providing a job that is compatible with any physical limitations due to theirinjury. Such workers must receive wages comparable to those earned before the injury.b. In the event that no such employment is possible, the injured worker will receivecompensation as provided in Worker Compensation or Disability statutes of the applicablejurisdiction.11. Choice of Health Providersa. Workers shall have the opportunity to select and submit the names of health care providersto any list of qualified doctors for the purposes of worker compensation and disabilityprograms.12. Protection from Hazardsa. Pregnant employees and employees under the age of 18 may not, under any circumstances,perform potentially hazardous tasks (including exposure to hazardous substances).b. Pregnant employees and employees under the age of 18 must be assigned taskscommensurate with their physical limitations.13. Health and safety violations
  38. 38. 38a. Repeated health and safety violations, and/or any one gross violation resulting in real orpotential serious harm to workers is considered to be a major violation of these standardsand shall be grounds for revocation of certification.Interns and ApprenticesRecommendationsBecause interns/apprentices are stakeholders in the food production system, certifiers must also allowfor their representation in the process of setting standards and polices.Standards1. Intern/apprentice rightsa. Since interns/apprentices work primarily for the educational experience rather than foreconomic compensation, they are exempt from the portions of these standards related toeconomic compensation. Instead, the intern/apprentice and the farmer shall agree on a fairstipend to cover the living expenses of the intern while compensating the farmer for providinginstruction.b. To ensure that farmers do not classify workers as interns or apprentices in order to makeinappropriate use of this exemption, employers must document the educational opportunitiesmade available to the interns/apprentices.c. Employers must comply with the other provisions of these Social Justice Standards with regardto their use of labor from interns/apprentices including provision of the right ofinterns/apprentices to organize and bargain collectively.2. Contractsa. Employers must formalize their relationship with interns/apprentices through contracts thatinclude at least the following administrative provisions:The intern/apprentice’s working conditions.Methods of evaluation for providing regular feedback and for mutual evaluation at theend of the internship.Disciplinary procedures.The stipend to be provided to the intern/apprentice by the farmer.Housing to be provided, if any.The farmer’s expectations for working hours and types of labor to be provided.b. The contract must also cover the opportunities to be provided by the employer for theintern/apprentice to meet educational goals either at the farm or through visits to other farms,conferences, workshops, or other appropriate means, including at least:The subjects about which the intern/apprentice desires to learn.The educational approach of the farm (hands-on, classroom style).
  39. 39. 39Amount of time for discussion, question and answer, lectures.Cooperation with other farms.Association with supportive farming organizations.Availability of reading materials.
  40. 40. 40Our Vision for A Sustainable Food SystemWe need to become independent of the world market economy because the world market economyis ultimately controlled by interests which seek power or profit and which do not respond to theneed of the world s peoples. 15We believe that the current industrial model of the food system has failed small farmers,farm workers, indigenous peoples, rural communities, and the public alike. Around theworld, the family farmer is rapidly disappearing, unable to compete with an agribusinesssupported by various direct and hidden subsidies, including the abundance of cheap labor.Myriad governmental and international policies have had an overall effect of driving downthe prices paid to farmers and driving up the prices paid by the people who must purchasefood. Despite growing populations, the quantity of food is still adequate to feed everyoneon the planet, but the inequities of power, wealth and access to land are causing hunger tospread. The increasingly consolidated production and trade of food have led to ecologicaldevastation and social desperation in agricultural communities. In the global South,countries are abandoning food security based on local self sufficiency and sinking intodependence on imported grains. The international system of intellectual property rightsbased on patents and plant variety protection deprives indigenous farmers of the geneticdiversity that their communities have created and freely shared over millennia. ThisWestern model does not serve its original objective of promoting innovation. It is biasedto favor the interests of the rich and powerful and structurally incapable of protecting andsupporting the intellectual integrity of informal innovators. This is a recipe for uprootingpeople from the land.As fundamental as the economic issues are the cultural implications of the currentindustrial food system, which separates those who eat from the source of their food. Inthis alienating system, food becomes a commodity, plant varieties become geneticproperty, farmers become producers, farm workers become wage laborers, and membersof communities are converted into individual consumers, while market forces manipulateall these elements for maximum profit by agribusiness. Communities have lost contactwith the growers of their food and the soil from which it comes. Farmers and farmworkers may still work closely together, but the current model compels farmers to viewtheir workers as but one of many economic resources on the farm. Meanwhile the farmersthemselves are losing their rights to save and share seeds and to make the managerialdecisions over their own farms.In contrast, we envision a food system that begins with stewardship of the land, thatproduces food with respect for the ecology of the field, the farm, the watershed, theregion and the earth, that uses appropriate, non violent technology and distributes thattechnology s benefits fairly. Such a food system would be based upon agriculture that isrespectful of the soil and the environment, harmoniously situated in the landscape, andcreating living wage jobs through livestock, crop, and horticultural enterprises. 16In this food system, the larger society would value farm work in direct proportion to the15Edited from Basic Call to Consciousness, Akwesasne Notes, p. ll716Adapted from Jose Bove’s definition of “peasant agriculture”