Agricultural Justice Project Visits Pie Ranch
No Comments since April 20th, 2012
While certified organic products assure customers that their food has been grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers and is produced with attention to the soil through cover cropping, crop rotation, proper tillage & irrigation, etc — this certification does not assure that the workers who grow the food are treated with respect & have access to a living wage & health care. In response to this missing link, the Agricultural Justice Project has developed a homegrown domestic fair trade label that represents the gold standard for social justice in agricultural and food jobs, rigorous third party certification, and a system based on the experiences and input of the farmers, farmworkers and business owners themselves. This past month, the AJP came out to California to train inspectors & to do practice assessments on three different farms — Pie Ranch was honored to be included in one of these three.
AJP’s objectives were to: 1. Assess working conditions, policies and practices on the farm and how they compare with the standards of the Agricultural Justice Project. 2. Provide recommendations and resources for improving working conditions, policies, and practices on the farm. 3. Demonstrate the processes used in an AJP certification audit.
The AJP team conducted a review of the farm application that would be submitted to a certifier for AJP certification, the farm’s written policies, emergency plan and a sample job offer letter. Based on this review, an initial report was provided to the farmers/owners that outlined the good practices as related to the AJP standards and fair labor practices and posed some of the questions that would be asked at the inspection. Emails and calls followed up with requests for more information. On March 28, 2012, the AJP team conducted a demonstration audit of the farm which included on-site interviews with the managers, most of the staff and all three apprentices. Based on the information gathered during these interviews, the AJP team developed a final assessment report that includes:
-An evaluation of the likelihood of AJP certification
-Recommendations for improvement and resources that may be helpful related to these recommendations
-Observations regarding good labor and negotiating practices, policies, and conditions
-Processes that may be different during a certification audit
The AJP said that “Pie Ranch is an outstanding farm and educational project with a staff that is passionate, dedicated, and creative, that exemplifies many of the elements of fairness that should always characterize organic agriculture.” We look forward to following up on the AJP’s recommendations & becoming AJP certified within the next year. Thank you everyone at the AJP for their important work!
For more information on the Agricultural Justice Project, you can visit their website here at http://www.agriculturaljusticeproject.org/home.html