Farm Sustainability Assessment

SAI Platform

What is Farm Sustainability Assessment ?

Promote your food company or farm’s sustainability progress through verification under the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) program. The FSA tool was developed by SAI Platform, a food industry organization dedicated to advancing sustainable agriculture in the food supply chain. FSA is used to evaluate the level of on-farm sustainability, to spur continuous farm improvement, support sustainable supply chain goals, and to benchmark existing standards, codes, schemes and legislation. The FSA program is used in 32 countries and is available in 19 languages for a variety of agricultural ingredients. The assessment is applicable to individual farms or all farms within a supply chain region or country. Food companies can use the FSA tool to support their management systems and sustainable sourcing goals across a given supply chain and earn recognition under one of three performance tiers.

Why Choose SCS?

Food companies are increasingly seeking third-party verified assurance of FSA compliance. This, combined with the sustainability expertise and perspective that independent verifiers can bring, are some of the reasons growers, consolidators, and brands are choosing third-party verification. As one of the pioneers in sustainable agriculture certification, SCS has the depth of experience and professional qualifications you’re looking for. We have auditors on the ground worldwide to evaluate farming operations. Additionally, SCS is accredited to conduct certifications under a wide range of programs benchmarked by the SAI Platform to the FSA tool, allowing for the potential to bundle services. SCS will assist in evaluating existing operations, goal setting, and implementation of responsible supply chain measures – anywhere in the world.

  • Program Details
  • Process
  • Benchmarking and Bundling
  • FAQs
  • Program Documents

SAI Platform created FSA in 2014 to assess the level of on-farm sustainability and to benchmark existing standards. The tool is used in 32 countries and available in 19 languages for a variety of food and beverage agricultural ingredients.

Food Companies – Use the FSA tool to support your sustainable sourcing goals.  SCS will assist you in evaluating your existing operations, goal setting, and implementation of responsible supply chain measures – anywhere in the world.

Farms – Earn recognition under one of three performance tiers, based on your level of conformance with essential, basic, and advanced criteria:

  • Bronze: Solid base of good farming practices. 100% coverage of essentials and 75% of basic.
  • Silver: Sustainable farming practices recognized by leading companies. 100% coverage of essentials, 80% of basic, and 50% of advanced.
  • Gold: Exceptional farming practices. 100% coverage of essentials, 100% of basic, and 75% of advanced.

SCS can assist you by conducting supplier audits, or by providing more comprehensive Responsible Sourcing solutions.

  1. Instructions

    Request initial instructions to begin certification process

  2. Complete Questionnaire

    Initiate the audit process by completing a self-assessment questionnaire

  3. Review

    Review guidance and supporting documents with SCS assistance

  4. Audit 

    Schedule, prepare and undergo third-party audit by SCS

  5. Report

    SCS will produce a report detailing the outcome of the audit as well as a sustainability score for review

  6. Corrective Actions

    Any issues cited will be addressed and steps to improve will be outlined and taken as needed

  7. Certification

    SCS will provide a certificate of achievement. SCS can also provide client marketing support.

Existing standards, codes, schemes and legislation can be benchmarked to the FSA tool. This process involves scoring against 112 questions, as well as a consistency check by an SAI Platform-approved independent expert.

SCS Sustainably Grown has been successfully benchmarked to the FSA standard, earning Silver Tier recognition.  This means that you can simultaneously earn recognition under the FSA Tool and under the popular Sustainably Grown® program when you get certified by SCS.

SCS is also accredited to perform certification under these FSA-benchmarked standards and codes of conduct:

  • Bonsucro production
  • ISCC
  • RSB
  • RSPO

What is SAI Platform?
SAI Platform is a food and beverage industry organization dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture in the food chain. It created the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) tool to evaluate the level of on-farm sustainability.

How long does an FSA audit take from start to finish?
The timeframe for completion of the audit depends on the size and complexity of your operation. Typically, the entire process can be completed within a few weeks to a few months

Can FSA and Sustainably Grown certifications be bundled for cost-savings?
Absolutely. Based on successful benchmarking, certified Sustainably Grown products automatically are recognized around the world by food companies that subscribe to the SAI Platform FSA.  The Sustainably Grown standard is also benchmarked to the Global Social Compliance Programme, recognized by IDH SIFAV, and recognized by food companies under their responsible sourcing programs.

What is FSA? 
FSA (Farm Sustainability Assessment) is a highly effective new tool providing you - companies in the food and drink value chain around the world - one single, simple tool to assess sustainable practices and helping you source more and more sustainably grown agricultural products. It’s a free, multi-purpose reference tool that you can use to benchmark your own company code, and/or third party certification schemes and even country/region specific legislation. It can also be used as a self-assessment and way to communicate your expectations to the supply chain, if no standard exists. Already many global brands, such as Coca Cola, Unilever, McCain and Mondelēz, have adopted FSA and are using it to assess and benchmark sustainable farming practices.

Why should I consider using it?
Instead of having to assess and verify multiple farm sustainability practices, or benchmark existing schemes, you now – for the first time ever – have one tool that can do this, saving time and resources.

Do we really need a new standard or a new way of selfassessment? 
FSA is not intended to replace existing, accepted, benchmarked standards. Many SAI Platform members are already using FSA to compare and assess existing standards such as Red Tractor, Rainforest Alliance, Skylark, and ISCC, just to name a few.

But what real benefit does FSA deliver to companies?
In short, FSA helps you save time and resources by avoiding multiple assessments of farmers’ sustainability practices. For example, Coca Cola and Unilever are using FSA to source sustainable sugar beet in Europe. Like many companies they have their own sustainability codes for suppliers, but they are using FSA to communicate expectations with its suppliers. As a result, sugar companies (SAI Platform member companies and others alike) are now actively communicating their FSA performance levels to multiple customers. So FSA is helping to harmonize expectations, and drive action by all those involved in the sustainability supply chain. 

How can using FSA help to deliver measurable impact on the ground? 
In a number of ways. While FSA does not measure impacts such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions or water savings, it does focus on practices that should lead to those impacts (and that can be measured). FSA can also be used as a basis for improvement plans that will lead to (measurable) impacts.

Apart from the potential savings in time and resources, does FSA deliver any other benefits? 
Yes. It also provides a valuable way for you to engage with suppliers and producers and creates a basis for developing improvement plans. FSA can also be used to identify potential risk topics (hotspots or trends) in specific supply chain and/or regions and, in some cases, it eliminates often unseen duplication in assessments and verification efforts.

Does FSA mean we would need to stop using other codes, standards and benchmarks?
FSA is a voluntary tool, and SAI Platform members can use FSA to suit their specific needs. Some companies are using it across all of their supply chains, while others chose to use it in one or two. Other members chose not to use it at all. FSA is not about introducing more standards or pushing any company to abandon what is working for them. FSA is about creating a common, harmonized language and encouraging the voluntary sharing of information about sustainable practices up and down the supply chain, to promote enhanced collaboration and improved practices between all parties.

Is FSA actually up and running and proven to be effective, or is it a new initiative that has yet to be properly ‘road-tested’? 
FSA is already being used by over 30 of the world’s leading food and drink value chain companies. It has been tested by different companies for different crops around the world and initial results and insights were used to improve and develop the tool. The current version of FSA (FSA 2.0) is being used by companies and farmers in 24 countries across Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa. It also has been translated in 18 languages. To ensure FSA remains an effective tool, we are committed to continuously improving how FSA works and will continue to do that as more farmers and more companies start using it. 

Who is behind FSA?
SAI Platform developed FSA in response to a need for a single set of requirements on which the industry is aligned, and to translate the Platform’s Principles & Practices into a practical implementation tool. SAI Platform is a not-for-profit organization with over 75 members from across the food supply chain, and aims to drive sustainable agricultural practices globally.

Is FSA supported and seen as credible by those outside of the food industry?
FSA was developed with expert input from those in and outside of the industry and that includes representatives from leading NGOs, universities, farmers and their representative groups. We used their advice and input - as well as building on well recognized existing standards and schemes – to develop FSA. We have also tested it in pilots around the world. It is therefore seen as both credible and complementary as a new tool for assessing sustainable agricultural practices. 

File Name Document
FAQs for Companies on FSA English
Farm Sustainability Assessment Visit Site
Farm Sustainability Assessment Implementation Framework English
Farm Sustainability Assessment Sell Sheet Visit Site
Farm Sustainability Assessment: User Guide English
FSA Supply Chain Implementation Guide English

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Kristy-Ann Bura