Info for Businesses

Co-op manager receives certificate from AJP.

Bluff Country Co-op was Food Justice Certified as part of our Upper Midwest pilot in 2007.

Food businesses of any type and size can become Food Justice Certified, from restaurants to retailers to processors. The certification process looks at your business’s labor practices and your contracts with farmers and businesses that you purchase from. 

Food Justice Certified mark: Fair company

FJC Standards for Food Businesses

Worker cutting winter squash

A worker processes winter squash at Swanton Berry Farm.

Question & answer

Factsheet: FJC for businesses

A quick introduction to Food Justice Certification and the FJC standards for food businesses.

Question & answer

Factsheet: FJC for brand holders

A quick introduction to Food Justice Certification and the FJC standards for brand holders.

Food Justice Certification standards address all aspects of production, processing, and selling food. Consult the following sections of our standards to see the requirements for your business and the level of certification that you’re seeking: 

Section 1: Food business responsibilities to farmers

Section 4: Food business responsibilities to employees and interns

Section 5: Grower group responsibilities

Section 6: Food business responsibilities to other food businesses

Section 7: Non-profits and non-profit cooperatives responsibilities

Read & download the standards

Standards icon, english language

Social Stewardship Standards for Farms, Ranches, and Other Food and Agriculture Businesses (2019)

Full text, current edition of our FJC standards. Spanish translation coming soon.

Standards icon, spanish language

Documento de Estándares para una Gestión Social Responsable en la Agricultura Orgánica y Sustenable (2012)

Full text, Spanish language translation of FJC standards, 2012 edition.

Resources for Businesses

Screenshots of AJP Farmer Toolkit

Most of our resources are gathered in our AJP toolkit, including guidance on policies and practices, templates for policies and documents, and examples shared by farms, businesses, and other organizations.

Steps to Certification

Sign at grocery store says Co-op is Local Fair Trade Certified

Get ready

Request fee estimate and download application from the certifier

  • See OEFFA’s website for application and fee schedule.
  • The application includes a licensing agreement and a request for an affidavit asserting that the businesses owned by you or associated with your business have not had any labor violations.

Submit application

Certifier conducts initial review of your application

  • The purpose of the initial review is to check that your application is complete, collect any additional information necessary, and review your documentation (such as labor policies) for any obvious points of non-compliance.
  • The certifier provides you with a preliminary list of any non-compliances and a timeline to remedy the issues. When you have documented your compliance for the certifier, the certification process continues.

Public consultation

  • The certifier sends your business name and location to AJP. We post this information on our public consultation page and collect public comments. Your certifier takes these comments into consideration during their certification process.

Inspection team reviews application

  • If your business has employees, the inspection team includes a worker representative. The team reviews your application to familiarize themselves with your operation and streamline the on-site inspection process.

On-site inspection

  • Your certifier schedules an inspection for a day when workers are present at your business.
  • Inspectors hold an initial meeting with workers and management to describe the AJP standards and Food Justice Certification process.
  • Inspectors interview workers, interns, and managers.
  • Inspectors visit facilities and any worker housing.
  • Inspectors conduct an on-site document review of any policies or employee files.
  • Inspection team holds an on-site follow-up meeting to answer any questions and provide a brief summary to the business owner.

Follow-up interviews (if necessary)

  • If scheduled employees are absent or if certain risk factors are identified, the certifier conducts additional interviews after the on-site inspection.

Certifier issues letter detailing non-compliances and timeline

  • The certifier identifies any final points of non-compliance after their site visit and provides you with a timeline to address these issues. Once all non-compliances are addressed…

Your business is certified!

You are now licensed to use the Food Justice Certified mark according to our labeling requirements, section 2.1 in our Policy Manual.


Apply to be Food Justice Certified

To apply for FJC, first contact the AJP for technical assistance & get ready for certification.

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) is currently the only Food Justice Certification certifier. Visit OEFFA’s website for more information about the application process and to apply for certification.

OEFFA logo

Frequently Asked Questions

How does Food Justice Certification compare to other fair trade standards?

Consumer Reports, Fair World Project, the Domestic Fair Trade Association, National Farm Worker Ministry, and farm worker organizations have all given high marks to Food Justice Certification’s standards for fair labor & trade practices because of our rigorous standards, truth in labeling, and stakeholder participation and governance. For more information see the Fair World Project’s Reference Guide to Fair Trade and Labor Justice Programs or their more detailed report and evaluation, Justice in the Fields. FJC is also one of only a handful of fair labor labels included in both the Good Food Purchasing Program and the Real Food Standards.

What's the process of certification?

First a farm or business brings their labor and trade practices into compliance with the FJC standards. The AJP offers technical assistance to help with this process. AJP provides this service free to farmers, depending on funding availability.

Once a business believes their practices are in compliance, they fill out an application for certification with the Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Association (OEFFA), who is currently the only certifier that offers FJC.

Once the application has been reviewed, OEFFA schedules an in-person audit, and the AJP posts an invitation for public comment regarding the applicant.

A team consisting of an organic certification inspector and an AJP-trained representative of a worker organization perform the FJC certification audit. The certifier meets with management to review workers’ files and contracts with buyers if such exist. The worker inspector meets with farm workers and interviews them individually in confidence to verify farm labor practices.

During a certification audit the selection of workers to interview is strictly dictated by the certifier and worker representative. The protocol certifiers must follow does not allow them to consider farmer input in selection of these workers. The certification auditor may also ask for contact information for workers who are not present the day of the audit and workers who were terminated during the previous 12 months, so they may contact them after the audit visit.

The inspection exit interview does not include the final detailed audit report as in an organic inspection. The auditors complete their report after any additional worker interviews that might be needed, and they make every effort to keep information they learned from individual employees confidential.

For organic farmers there is the optional advantage of combining two certifications into one inspection: Organic and Food Justice. Currently OEFFA is the sole Certification Body licensed to conduct both inspections. There would be a significant saving of time and resources as compared with audits by different certifiers.

OEFFA issues a final certification after the farm or business corrects any points of non-compliance cited in the final report.

How much does certification cost?

Certification fees are determined by the certifier. See the current fee sheet on OEFFA’s website for details.

How much does an employer have to pay workers to qualify for FJC?

FJC standards do not establish a specific wage rate for all employers (such as minimum wage). Instead, the standards require that the employer pay a living wage for the region, calculated using local costs of living. For a rough estimate of a living wage in your area, see the MIT Living Wage Calculator, but add an additional 10% for savings (included in the AJP’s definition of a living wage but excluded from MIT’s calculation). Note that MIT’s data may also be out-of-date.

If the employer cannot pay a regional living wage currently, the standards require that employer and employees have an open and transparent discussion about what a living wage would be for the region and create a plan to raise wages to that level. During this period, the employer must share basic accounting (including revenues and expenses) of the operation with employees to demonstrate why paying a full living wage is not yet possible.

Can a non-profit farm/business qualify for FJC?

Yes. FJC includes specific standards that cover the relationship between the staff and employees of a non-profit farm/business and its board of directors. The FJC standards require that there be a democratic process for selecting the board and that there are clear channels for staff participation in board decision-making. The standards also require open communications with workers about changes to the farm/business by either the staff or the board. If the board wants to change the direction of the farm/business or add new tasks or areas of work, the staff are consulted and new tasks assigned fairly with job descriptions that do not exceed normal working hours. Board members should be qualified to make decisions related to the organization’s mission and avoid conflicts of interest. In addition, there must be a conflict resolution policy that specifically addresses appropriate procedures for disputes among board members or between board and staff members.

Can a farm/business qualify for FJC if it does not hire employees?

Yes. Farms and businesses without hired employees can be certified, since the standards also cover relationships and negotiations between farmers and buyers and between food businesses.

Are the Food Justice Certification standards just about workers?

Food Justice Certification provides for fair treatment of both farmers and workers. The vision of the Agricultural Justice Project’s certification program is to ensure and reward fair relationships throughout the food system. This includes farmers receiving a fair price for their farm products and having fair and transparent negotiations with buyers.

Can a farm/business be certified if it is a subsidiary of a larger corporation?

Yes, as long as the farm/business is a completely separate business entity with separate financial statements, separate organizational structures, separate paychecks for employees who work for both the subsidiary and the larger corporation, and separate names.