Clarification On Sustainable Agriculture Standard

Linda Brown of Scientific Certification Systems, which drafted the proposed National Sustainable Agriculture Standard and the certification program for VeriFlora, explains aspects related to pest control and organic practices.

Dear Greenhouse Grower,

Many thanks for your participation in the Information Phone call about the National Sustainable Agriculture Standard ANSI process on Monday. As you indicated in your article, the floriculture industry was well represented, and we look forward to further active participation by growers, thanks in part to efforts such as yours. However, please allow me to clarify and correct the following item in your story.

You state: "For instance, in pest control, a grower at the Tier 1 level would have a plan to move toward organic from conventional, but the Tier 2 grower will have achieved being certified organic."

The standard currently states "the Producer is required to apply least toxic pest and disease management and control systems, integrating organic practices as these are proven to be practical, with organic conversion timeframes to be determined on a per crop, per region basis. Where organic practices are not fully implementable on a practical basis, the standard establishes minimum requirements related to the use of registered pesticides and fertilizers, integrating practices that minimize the overall use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and that direct the Producer toward use of the lowest risk pesticides."

The operative words here are "practical" and "per crop, per region basis." Under the VeriFlora program, SCS fully recognizes that for some crops and in some regions, organic practices may not be practical. If organic practices result in sacrificing other aspects of sustainability, then they are not practical.

Regarding Tier 1 and Tier 2, there is no requirement to achieve Tier 2. This level is strictly a recognition of practices that go beyond the basics of sustainability. It would be highly unlikely that retail customers would ask for that level of performance, so I don’t think the floriculture industry has anything to be concerned about in that regard.

Finally, let me emphasize that no one stakeholder group has more interest than any other stakeholder group on the voting body. And there is no restriction to participation in the sub-committees that will do the work on the standard… All are welcome!

Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly if you have any questions about the draft standard and the VeriFlora program. We look forward to your continuing coverage of the standard.

Sincerely,

Linda Brown
Executive Vice President
Scientific Certification Systems
2200 Powell Street, Suite 725
Emeryville, CA 94608
510-452-8001 fax
510-504-0226 cell/ office
707-254-1001 home office

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