Certifiers are accredited and monitored by an independent accreditation organistion, Accreditation Services International.
This ensures our program is robust, credible and meets best practice guidelines for standard-setting organisations as set out by ISEAL and FAO.
The ASC certification process reflects the organisation’s values of openness, inclusiveness and transparency.
Here’s how the certification process work:
- The farm agrees a contract with an independent certifier.
- The certifier works with the farm to prepare for the audit.
- The audit is publicly announced on the ASC website at least 30 days in advance to allow stakeholders to provide relevant input.The audit will assess both technical and social compliance, which require different skill sets. The audit team typically uses two auditors to meet the skill requirements.
- The audit assesses the farm’s administration (logbooks, invoices, delivery receipts, etc.).
- The auditor verifies the operation is well run in practice through visual assessments and interviews with management and staff.
- The audit team will prepare a draft report, which may raise any major or minor non-conformities that the farm needs to improve upon. Both parties then agree on a time-bound improvement plan for each issue.
Farms are encouraged to share their feedback regarding auditors performance with the ASC. This will help to improve the ASC programme. ASC will collect the feedback, anonymise and aggregate it before sharing with the CABs for their improvements. This will be done on an ANONYMOUS basis
When all major non-conformities have been addressed and improvement plans for any minor issues have been agreed upon, the certifier will decide if the farm complies with the ASC Standard. The draft report will be available for public consultation on the ASC website for a minimum of 10 days, allowing stakeholders to give their feedback.
The certifier will process all findings from the audit and responses from the consultation into a final audit report. This report will state whether the farm is certified or not (yet) certified.
The ASC farm certificate is issued by the certifier and valid for three years. Farms are subject to an annual ‘surveillance audit’ featuring a risk analysis, focusing on the farm’s improvement plans and on a sample of the standard’s requirements.
The ASC’s social requirements include interviews with farm staff, neighbours and other relevant stakeholders to assess compliance.
Who can assess against the ASC standards?
Certifiers must meet certain performance levels and must conduct farm assessments as set out in the ASC Farm Certification and Accreditation Requirements. Auditors are also required to participate in ASC’s standard specific training; including a mandatory exam to test their understanding which they must pass.
Auditors and the certification companies that employ them are independent of the ASC. A certification company is more correctly referred to as a Conformity Assessment Body (CAB), and sometimes as ‘the certifier’ or ‘certification body’. CABs must demonstrate to another independent company (Accreditation Services International (ASI)) that they have the skills to undertake assessments. ASI is referred to as an ‘accreditation body’ and they ‘accredit’ a CAB when they have demonstrated understanding of the ASC Farm Certification and Accreditation Requirements. After accreditation, CABs will be monitored by ASI to ensure they continue to operate in line with the ASC’s requirements.
Joint Checklists ASC and GLOBALG.A.P.
To facilitate further audit efficiency for farms seeking multiple certification (to be able to serve clients with varying demands) ASC and GLOBALG.A.P. have co-developed the following joint checklists. The documents below can be used for farms already holding a GLOBALG.A.P. certification that would like add ASC certification.
For Farms already holding ASC certification and also seeking GLOBALG.A.P. certification, the checklists can be found here.
Our farm standards, audit manuals and certification and accreditation requirements have been developed with the intention to cover most real-life scenarios in farming practises. Nevertheless, situations occur where these documents do not provide a solution. For this reason, accredited certifiers can submit a variance request (VR) on the content of theses documents seeking interpretation guidance or how to address situations not covered.
Once a variance request is received by ASC, it is discussed within the VR-committee. The committee consists of our Standards Director, Chair of Technical Advisory Group, Chair of Supervisory Board and our CEO. If a certifier encounters an identical situation for which an earlier variance request has been submitted and approved, then the certifier can refer to the earlier variance request in the audit report for its decision. An overview on the variance request and their status can be found via: