A new procedure will make it easy for any stakeholder, from auditors to NGOs, to seek clarification on the ASC standards and related documents.
The procedure for Questions for Interpretation (also known as QAs) will apply a consistent approach to the way ASC deals with these requests, making the process more transparent and accessible.
Given the detailed and technical nature of the ASC standards, there are occasions when a clarification or interpretation of the language or intent of a part of a standard is needed. This is where QAs can help, and any stakeholder can ask for an interpretation.
While stakeholders have been able to submit QAs for some time, the new procedure tells them exactly how and when ASC will respond, assures them that all questions will be dealt with in a consistent manner, and improves the efficiency of the process.
The QA procedure can have a real impact on the future of the ASC programme, in line with ASC’s commitment to stakeholder collaboration. All QAs are taken into account when a standard is being reviewed or revised.
The new procedure does not only apply to ASC’s farm standards but also to the Certification and Accreditation Requirements – the document used by auditors when applying the ASC standards. Again, this improves consistency and efficiency and ensures all stakeholders receive the same experience.
Because all questions and answers are published online, each completed QA provides transparent information for stakeholders with the same question in future. In order to improve accessibility, these are published on the easily searchable Variance Request & Interpretation Platform.
Renée Hamel, ASC Technical & Operations Support Manager, said: “At ASC we are always thinking about ways to improve how we collaborate with our stakeholders. It’s not enough to allow stakeholders to ask questions or provide feedback – the process needs to be accessible, transparent, and meaningful.
“We don’t only allow questions or feedback, we encourage it and genuinely value it. Every question we are asked helps us when we are developing our standards in the future, and the answers can help provide clarity to others with similar questions.”
The procedure has now been published on the Variance Request & Interpretation Platform on the ASC website, and will be effective from December 15 2021. Questions on the procedure can be sent to email@example.com