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Sustainably Grown Certified

Gauge your progress toward sustainability.

Sustainably Grown Certification

Sustainable Agriculture for Food and Fiber

Demand for sustainably grown food and fiber products has never been stronger. Innovations by commodity crops, specialty crops, and horticulture growers have led to major improvements in energy efficiency, waste management, air and water quality protection, carbon sequestration, work conditions, and community relations.

Our Sustainably Grown standard supports growers and supply chain handlers committed to sustainable agricultural production over the long-term. Certification under this program helps you identify practical steps on the path to sustainability, adds visibility to your market claims, and satisfies retailer, manufacturer and food service supply chain specifications.


Ned Halaby
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SCS Sustainably Grown


Program Details


Growers involved in the production of any food or fiber crop are eligible to apply for certification. Supply chain handlers, including packers, distributors, and transportation services, may also apply for handler certification.

Program Objectives

Certification reinforces your position as a leader in efforts to minimize environmental impacts, provide a safe and healthy work environment, and protect product integrity.

  • Implement best practices for environmental, social and quality performance
  • Stimulate continuous improvement and innovation in agriculture
  • Enhance agro-ecosystem structure and functioning
  • Increase energy efficiency of agricultural systems
  • Reduce GHGs from agricultural operations
  • Support bioregional production and consumption of agricultural products
  • Optimize land use for the production of food, fiber and biofuel crops
  • Raise public awareness and stimulate consumer purchases that reinforce adoption of sustainable agriculture practices
Certification Criteria

Operations are evaluated under the following criteria categories:

  • Sustainable Crop Production
  • Ecosystem Management and Protection
  • Resource Conservation and Energy Efficiency
  • Integrated Waste Management
  • Fair Labor Practices
  • Community Benefits
  • Product Quality
  • Product Safety and Purity
Performance Levels

Certification is issued at two tiers of performance. The basic certification, Tier 1, is based on conformance with all prerequisites, and 90% of the Tier 1 requirements. The second, higher level (Tier 2) requires conformance with 80% of Tier 2 requirements.

Complementary Services

SCS Global Services provides a full suite of certification, auditing and testing services for the agricultural production sector that can complement your sustainability certification objectives. For the most cost-effective service options, ask about our food safety, organic, flavor, antioxidant superfood, and pesticide residue free program options.


  1. Apply for Certification

    Submit your application. You receive the SCS Assessment Services Agreement. Complete, sign, and return.

  2. Authorize a Work Order

    We prepare a work order that includes the scope, costs and details of the audit. Once you authorize the work order, we schedule your evaluation audit. This scope may be expanded based on findings in step 3.

  3. Self-Assessment

    You complete a Self-Assessment Checklist (SAC). We review your checklist and supporting documentation to help you identify gaps in conformance and areas for improvement.

  4. Evaluation Audit

    The audit includes an on-site inspection, document review, evidence gathering, and interviews with office and management staff, and employees. Typically 1 to 1.5 days per site.

  5. Audit Report

    SCS sends you the final audit report within 15-20 business days. The timeframe for responding to the audit findings begins on the date the report is sent.

  6. Corrective Action Plan

    You develop a corrective action plan (CAP) to respond to any non-conformities, listing corrective and preventative actions and evidence of implementation.

  7. Certification Decision

    SCS reviews the audit report, your CAP and evidence submitted and renders a certification decision. Successful applicants receive the applicable Sustainably Grown certification mark, a certificate valid for three years, and logo use guidelines.

  8. Annual Renewal

    Annual surveillance audits are required to maintain certification status.

National Standard

SCS Global Services has helped to drive current efforts to develop an American National standard for sustainable agriculture (LEO 4000). We are closely tracking its progress, and will ensure that all growers participating in our Sustainably Grown program will meet or exceed this standard once it is finalized in order to provide you with even greater recognition opportunities.

The published aims of the proposed American National Sustainable Agriculture Standard are:

  1. To encourage practices that are socially responsible, environmentally responsible and economically viable;
  2. To be built upon a basic understanding of agricultural systems;
  3. To be based on the concept of continuous improvement;
  4. To be accessible any producer at any level of current practice;
  5. To be sufficiently flexible, adaptable and non-prescriptive to allow producers to innovate and adopt practices specific to their needs and conditions;
  6. To be metrics based, uniform, and non-subjective enough to support consistent evaluation and assessment;
  7. To provide a structure to acknowledge the best practitioners and encourage improvement among all practitioners;
  8. To be diverse enough to adequately cover various crops, cropping systems and geography, while providing a common framework that can be applied across crops and cropping systems;
  9. To provide guidance for the post-production (i.e., product handling) value chain;
  10. To establish a framework that allows equivalence from other standards;
  11. To provide a basis for consolidating, incorporating and harmonizing the diverse array of the sustainable agriculture standards and initiatives underway;
  12. To be rigorous enough to ferret out fraudulent standards and operators; and
  13. To be rigorous enough to be respected by stakeholders and the general public.


Participants who pursue recognition under the SCS Sustainably Grown certification program can benefit in several ways:

  • Create an internal sustainability plan and monitor progress
  • Build brand value for your products
  • Satisfy retailer and manufacturer specifications
  • Create a healthier environment through reduced chemical risks and resource conservation
  • Reduce energy, water and packaging costs
  • Increase worker productivity, teamwork and satisfaction
  • Improve relationships with the community


  1. What is SCS Sustainably Grown?

    SCS Sustainably Grown is a sustainable agriculture certification program for fresh food and plant-based ingredient producers.

  2. What are the basic procedures and processes affected by certification?

    The Sustainably Grown certification program delivers products backed by true agricultural sustainability, with producers required to put practices in place throughout the production, management, and distribution processes in order to guarantee the highest level of:

    • Environmental Responsibility: On farming practices that build soil, conserve water and support healthy ecosystems.
    • Worker Protections: Promoting a healthy, equitable workplace that supports farmers, workers, their families and the community.
    • Quality Processes: Supporting handling practices from seed to store that allow consumers to enjoy food and personal care products that are healthy, safe, and made with the highest quality standards.
  3. What crops can become certified to Sustainably Grown?

    Fruits, vegetables, grains, herbs, flowers, and other fresh food crops.

  4. How much does it cost to become certified?

    Fees are determined based upon size and complexity of the operation. Auditor fees are calculated on a per diem basis, plus travel time and expenses; administrative fees are determined by the number of sites audited.

  5. How long is my certification good for?

    Certification is granted for a three-year period, with annual surveillance audits to confirm continued compliance with requirements.

  6. What supporting documentation is required of the grower?

    Growers must provide the following documentation (and others) prior to certification, and then again annually in support of their surveillance audits: Crop production area and annual yield, by product; Agrochemical use; Water use; Energy use; Waste disposal and recycling records; Agrochemical use; and Composting records.

  7. What types of producers will benefit from Sustainably Grown certification?

    Sustainably Grown certification is a good fit for producers who wish to incorporate the highest level of sustainable agriculture practices and to have those practices validated and recognized by retailers, buyers, or consumers. The SCS Sustainably Grown Kingfisher mark supports certified clients' efforts to convey their sustainability practices with on-product labeling.

  8. What makes Sustainably Grown different from other sustainable agriculture certifications?

    The Sustainably Grown standard requires that the growers incorporate environmentally beneficial practices at all levels of production, maintain a high level of product quality, as well as provide worker and community benefits. It is one of the highest levels of sustainability certification a grower can achieve, as confirmed by independent evaluations.

  9. What are the top reasons growers give for pursuing Sustainably Grown certification?

    • Want to stand out to retailer clients as the highest quality brand that the retailer could choose
    • Want consumers to know about and value the environmental programs they have implemented
    • Want to establish a clear path to continuous improvement and gain recognition for the work they have done to be a top quality producer


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