Information for Farms
Food Justice Certification
Fair labor & fair trade for farms
Farmers’ and workers’ needs are inextricably linked, and any effort to define fairness in the food system has to address the working conditions of each group. Food Justice Certification (FJC) offers one strategy for building fairness for all parties. In order to be certified, farms, food businesses, and retailers must meet rigorous social justice standards for labor and trade practices. The FJC standards are written and overseen by farmworkers, community-scale farmers, and other advocates for food justice.
What does FJC offer to your farm?
- A gold standard for fair policies and practices: rigorous standards of fairness and best practices, backed up by accountability and third-party verification.
- Price premium: demonstrate your values to your customers and earn a premium in the market. Buyers who are certified must pay farmers prices that cover the full cost of production, including fair compensation and investments in the future of the farm.
- Building the movement: FJC farms show the world what fairness looks like in food & agriculture. They also join a network of farmers, workers, and eaters who support each other to build a food system that’s fair and just.
Food Justice Certified Standards
A quick introduction to the benefits of Food Justice Certification for farm workers, including fair working conditions, employment policies, compensation, etc.
A quick introduction to the benefits of Food Justice Certification for farmers, including fair prices, contracts, negotiations, etc.
See our Food Justice Certification page for more detailed information on the program.
Certification is free for many farms
The Agricultural Justice Project recognizes that farms have tight margins and struggle with additional cost burdens. For this reason, AJP raises funds through donations and grants to pay for the costs of certification for small-to-mid-size farms and for BIPOC farmers.
This funding is available to cover both certification and technical assistance to prepare for certification. Funds may be limited and are offered on a first-come-first-served basis, so if you are interested in getting certified please contact us to confirm funding availability and eligibility.
More info: Steps to Certification
1. Get ready
- Read the AJP Standards Sections 2 – 3 for all farms, as well as section 7 if your farm is a nonprofit organization or part of a nonprofit. See also policies on FJC labeling.
- Visit our Farmer Toolkit for guidance and templates on hiring, compensation, safety, discipline, conflict resolution, and more.
- Use our farmer self-assessment checklist to prepare for your FJC application and identify areas of policy and practice that need to be addressed.
2. Get help
- Consider seeking technical assistance from the AJP. We can help speed up and simplify your certification process. We have funding to provide direct consultations at no cost to farms that are small-to-mid-size or that are BIPOC-owned or -led. Initial consultations are always free for everyone, and we will let you know our rates for further consulting, if any.
- Download the Food Justice Certification Fee Sheet. Small-to-mid-size family and community farms and BIPOC-owned or BIPOC-led farms qualify for no-cost certification as long as our funding allows. Contact AJP at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more and inquire about funding availability.
3. Download an application from the certifier
- Currently OEFFA is the only approved FJC certifier. Download an application from their website and request an estimate for certification costs (if any). AJP can provide technical assistance filling out your application.
- If you are already certified organic, your certifier could become trained to offer AJP certification – reducing your certification costs by doing both inspections in one trip. Ask us how!
4. Return your application to the certifier
- The application includes a licensing agreement and a request for an affidavit asserting that your farm and/or other entities owned by you or associated with your farm have not had any labor violations.
5. Certifier reviews your application
- The purpose of the initial review is to check that your application is complete, collect any additional information necessary, then review your documentation (such as labor policies) for any gaps in compliance.
- If any points of non-compliance are found, your certifier will provide you with a list of these and a timeline to address the issues. Resolve any issues and provide documentation to the certifier.
6. Public consultation
- Once your application is complete, the certifier sends your farm name and location to AJP, who posts this information on our public consultation page in order to collect any comments from the public. Your certifier takes these comments into consideration during their certification decision making process.
7. Inspection team reviews application
- If your farm has employees, your inspection team includes a worker representative. The inspection team reviews your application to familiarize themselves with your operation and streamline the inspection process.
8. On-site inspection
- Your certifier schedules an inspection on a day when workers are present on your farm.
- Initial meeting is held with workers and management present to describe the AJP standards and Food Justice Certification process
- Interviews held with workers, interns, and management
- Visit of fields, facilities and any worker housing
- Inspector conducts an on-site document review of any policies or employee files
- Inspection team holds on-site follow-up meeting to answer any questions and share a brief summary with the farm owner
9. Certifier conducts any necessary follow-up interviews
- If scheduled employees are absent or if certain risk factors are identified your certifier calls workers after the inspection to conduct additional interviews
10. Certifier issues letter detailing any points of non-compliance and timeline for remedy
- Your certifier identifies any points of non-compliances after the site visit and provides you with a timeframe in which to address these issues. You may be required to resolve issues before your certification is approved, or minor issues may be left to be remedied before the next inspection and certification renewal.
Your farm is certified!
- You are now licensed to use the Food Justice Certified mark according to our labeling requirements.
* Farmers are entitled to use the AJP Appeals and Complaints procedure at any point in the certification process.
Resources & Technical Assistance
We recognize that it’s challenging to implement new practices when you’re busy with the daily demands of production. We can help your farm improve your labor and trading practices even if you don’t pursue FJC certification. We have lots of resources to support farmers who want to provide better working conditions for workers and achieve fair trading relationships with their customers.
We offer technical assistance in the following formats:
Building the Movement
Strength in numbers, strength in diversity. The AJP is a coalition-based, movement-building project. We believe that the immense changes we need in order to make our food system more fair and ecological can only be achieved through broad-based collective action. Building a movement like that requires not only promoting the leadership of workers, farmers, and community members, but also strengthening collaborations within and among groups. Here are a few ways we try to advance these goals through our programs:
- Building solidarity & coalition: The fair practices and policies of our FJC standards promote collaboration between employers and employees, who work together to build successful, safe, and fair workplaces. FJC standards also provide a fair trade framework for farmers and buyers to negotiate fair pricing and build truly sustainable farm and food businesses.
- Growing the market for fair food: We support farmers to meet our FJC standards and invite their communities to pay the true cost of producing food. FJC farms also qualify for preferential vendor status for institutional food procurement through the Good Food Purchasing Program and other values-based procurement standards. We partner with Good Food Communities campaigns to shift local government procurement to support fairly produced food and especially BIPOC producers and workers. We encourage farmers to connect with a GFC campaign in your region.
- Building knowledge, sharing resources: We help farm people share open source knowledge about how to make farms more fair and just. See our technical assistance, Toolkit resource library, networking events, and Fair Farms discussion group (on the Ag Solidarity Network).