Frequently Asked Questions - FSA Add-on

1. What is the GLOBALG.A.P. Farm Sustainability Assessment (GGFSA) add-on?

The GLOBALG.A.P. Farm Sustainability Assessment (GGFSA) add-on enables a producer or producer group that is already using the GLOBALG.A.P. certification system to make an FSA claim in the most efficient way possible. It includes a tailored set of FSA-inspired questions that can be implemented alongside the GLOBALG.A.P. Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) or Crops for Processing (CfP) standard for all crops to produce a verified FSA performance level claim. It bridges the gap between the GLOBALG.A.P. and FSA standards, allowing producers to make FSA claims up to FSA gold level with only one audit.

2. For whom is the GGFSA add-on intended?

The GGFSA add-on has been designed for any legal entity that has already obtained GLOBALG.A.P. certification (for crops) and wants to make an FSA claim in the most streamlined way possible.

3. What is the benefit of making an FSA claim?

The FSA is widely recognized as a food and drink industry reference for sustainable crop farming. It was created to encourage the industry-wide adoption of better management practices that improve farm performance and sustainability outcomes. Using the GGFSA add-on makes it unnecessary to be a part of multiple company-specific sustainability schemes by providing one approach that is recognized throughout the industry.

4. Why was the GGFSA add-on to GLOBALG.A.P. standards created?

The integration of SAI Platform’s FSA and the GLOBALG.A.P. certification has the potential to deliver enormous benefits. It is a huge step forward for many supply chains, seamlessly integrating food safety and sustainability into one harmonized on-farm approach. Uniting the FSA and GLOBALG.A.P. brings us closer to a common definition of sustainable agriculture that farmers, food manufacturers, and policy makers so urgently need.

5. What are the benefits for companies and farms?

The GGFSA add-on saves time and money for both farms and companies, allowing them to focus on sustainably developing their business. Having the verification take place at the same time as the regular audit for crops according to the GLOBALG.A.P. IFA or CfP standard, it reduces the assessment workload of the certification body significantly. Producers won’t have to do audits according to the GLOBALG.A.P. IFA or CfP standard and then an additional round of FSA verification in order to make FSA claims as well. Given that the content of the questions is fully tailored to the GLOBALG.A.P. IFA and CfP standards’ scope Crops, there is no redundancy or overlap, making self-assessment as efficient as possible.

6. What is the scope of the GGFSA add-on? Does it matter which GLOBALG.A.P. certificate I have?

GGFSA is designed to be audited alongside the GLOBALG.A.P. IFA or CfP standard for all crops. The scope of the GGFSA add-on can include any product in the scope Crops (e.g., FV, CC, PPM, or HO) of the IFA and CfP standards. It cannot be used for aquaculture or livestock products. The producer (group) may select which crops are inspected against the GGFSA, as long as these crops are also within the scope of the IFA/CfP standard.

7. What is the relationship between GLOBALG.A.P. and SAI Platform?

SAI Platform and GLOBALG.A.P. have been working together for many years on a variety of projects. After initiating the ‘Declaration of Abu Dhabi’ together in 2014, we have been focusing on its commitments 3, 4, 5, and 7:

  • Work toward a COMMON set of criteria for good agricultural practices
  • Reduce duplication of systems to verify compliance on farms
  • Cooperate between government and market actors
  • Communicate additional claims

These commitments were the driver for deeper collaboration, and the result is the GGFSA add-on to the GLOBALG.A.P. system. For more information about the declaration, please visit: www.declaration-of-abu-dhabi.org/

8. What was the design process?

After benchmarking the GLOBALG.A.P. IFA standard for Crops and the CfP standard to the FSA, we identified 38 FSA questions that were not covered by the GLOBALG.A.P. system or were covered only in part. Taking these 38 questions, we were able remove further redundancy by combining some of the remaining FSA questions and tailoring them around the GLOBALG.A.P. IFA standard. This process was guided along the way by several SAI Platform and GLOBALG.A.P. member representatives and was piloted on different production systems, covering products such as potatoes, apples, and a variety of stone fruits in Italy, Poland, and Germany.

9. How many questions are there in the GGFSA add-on and what do they cover?

There are 20 questions for farms to answer. They can be downloaded here. They cover environmental, social, and economic aspects of sustainable farm management.

In addition, there are requirements for the quality management system (QMS), including making sure that systems are in place to accurately account for FSA volumes and scores (traceability) and to deliver continuous improvement after the first audit.

10. Is the GGFSA add-on compatible with GRASP?

GRASP stands for GLOBALG.A.P. Risk Assessment on Social Practice. It addresses several workers’ welfare and health and safety topics that are partially addressed by the GGFSA add-on. Therefore, if a producer already has GRASP, it will be easier to implement the GGFSA add-on. However, having GRASP is not a requirement for using the GGFSA add-on, and the GGFSA add-on is not equivalent to GRASP.

11. In what languages is it available?

The GGFSA add-on is available in English, German, Spanish, and Italian, with more languages becoming available depending on demand. If you would like to propose a language for translation, please contact standard_support@globalgap.org

12. What is the typical implementation process for the GGFSA add-on?

Let us assume that a buyer that is currently requiring the GLOBALG.A.P. IFA certificate from its orange suppliers now wants to make an FSA claim on its oranges.

  1. First, the buyer would need to discuss the GGFSA add-on with its orange suppliers (producers), understand what the priority development needs are for the sourcing region, and communicate the benefits of the GGFSA add-on.
  2. The orange suppliers in turn would start working with their orange farmers to address the most pressing GGFSA add-on questions and potentially set a target, e.g., FSA bronze level. The roadmap to the bronze level might start with the FSA essential questions in the first year and move on to the more advanced topics in subsequent years.
  3. The quality management system (QMS) of the producer group would then internally audit which FSA questions are being achieved by the farmers completing the add-on and determine an FSA score for the whole group. It is possible to have different performance levels within a producer group, such as 50% bronze and 50% silver.
  4. More than one round of self-assessment by the farms in the producer group may be required in order to improve the accuracy with which the questions are interpreted or allow time for improvement before seeking to make a verified FSA claim. 
  5. To make FSA claims, the orange producer’s certification body would then validate these findings as part of a normal GLOBALG.A.P. re-certification audit.
  6. The final step is to understand whether there are any topics that can be drawn from the results that can be used to guide improvement, such as individual questions with the lowest rate of attainment. Continuous improvement plans based on the findings of the GGFSA add-on should be discussed and decided by all stakeholders.
13. How is the GGFSA add-on scored?

The scoring is aligned to the full FSA that can be found in the Implementation Framework available on https://saiplatform.org/fsa/resource-centre/. The scoring is also embedded in the Microsoft Excel self-assessment form.

The add-on was designed to allow a farm to claim anything from a minimum score (partially equivalent to the FSA, but not reaching the bronze threshold) that is achieved by complying with the GLOBALG.A.P. IFA standard for Crops and CfP standard all the way up to FSA gold level.

In the creation of the add-on, the FSA content gap comprising 38 questions was consolidated into 20 questions that form the final add-on. In this process, the correspondence with the original questions was maintained, and the scoring of the add-on is weighted accordingly. This means that questions in the add-on which correspond to a larger number of FSA questions have a larger effect on the score. For example, one question in the add-on could correspond to one essential and one basic question in the original FSA.

14. How does verification of the add-on work?

To ensure maximum continuity, verification of the GGFSA add-on is precisely aligned to the existing GLOBALG.A.P. assurance process. The only difference is that verification of the add-on is required only every 3 years, as opposed to every year for GLOBALG.A.P. standards. Depending on the size of the producer group, this might imply a higher or lower number of farm inspections than required by the FSA verification minimum.

15. How long are FSA claims valid for using the GGFSA add-on?

Claims are valid for a maximum of 3 years from the date of attestation by the third-party auditor. This means that the add-on needs to be included for re-verification only every 3 years, as opposed to every year for GLOBALG.A.P. standards.

16. Why have you chosen to follow GLOBALG.A.P. assurance protocols instead of the FSA verification framework?

In the GLOBALG.A.P. system, a farm can be individually certified or part of a group certification. This is like the FSA, where claims can be made at individual farm level or at farm management group level. The process for verified FSA claims at the individual farm level matches GLOBALG.A.P. individual certification, so both systems are fully compatible already.

In GLOBALG.A.P. group certification, every farm completes a self-assessment which is internally audited via the group’s quality management system (QMS). The farms in the QMS are then randomly inspected by a third-party certification body every year using a square root sampling approach.

As a basis for making FSA volume claims, a sample of farms in a farm management group is randomly selected to complete a self-assessment, and then a subset of those self-assessments is randomly selected for verification by a third party.

Rather than attempting to use two different sampling approaches in parallel or hybridize the rules and processes, we have chosen to follow the GLOBALG.A.P. assurance method for farm groups. This simplifies the implementation, maximizes credibility, and reduces the likelihood that farms in a farm management group are audited more than necessary.

17. Do I have to use the GGFSA add-on with third-party verification?

Third-party verification is required only to support FSA claims. The GGFSA add-on can be used internally by a farm or farm management group purely as a self-assessment without including it in the scope of the GLOBALG.A.P. certification process. In this approach, only once the farm or group feels comfortable and confident in the results of the self-assessment they choose to include it in the scope for a third-party audit by a certification body.

18. Are there any extra requirements to the GLOBALG.A.P. QMS-level audit when using the GGFSA add-on?

Like GLOBALG.A.P. and farm-level verification, SAI Platform also requires a check at the farm management group (FMG) level; this is referred to in the GLOBALG.A.P. system as the quality management system (QMS). Therefore, this check is included in both systems. The additional FSA requirements beyond those defined in the GLOBALG.A.P. QMS checklist are designed to make sure that systems are in place to accurately account for the FSA volumes and scores (traceability regarding FSA). Additionally, the certification bodies shall assess the action and continuous improvement plans developed by the QMS after the first audit.

19. Which certification bodies are approved to audit the GGFSA add-on?

Certification bodies (CBs) that have been approved for both the IFA standard for Crops and GRASP can apply for approval for the GGFSA add-on. A list of approved CBs is available on the GLOBALG.A.P. website.

20. My farm or company is already using the FSA; does this offer an easier route into GLOBALG.A.P.?

While high performance in the FSA should make complying with GLOBALG.A.P. standards easier, the add-on offers a one-way route to equivalence with the FSA for farms and farm management groups already using GLOBALG.A.P., not the other way around. If you would like to get a GLOBALG.A.P. certificate, please follow this link for more information!

21. If I have already completed full FSA verification for a group of GLOBALG.A.P. certified farms, does the launch of the add-on change anything for me?

No, but you may wish to consider using the add-on next time around.

If you have completed the full FSA self-assessments but have not yet started with verification, please inform your CB and the GLOBALG.A.P. team, who can try to coordinate FSA verification and GLOBALG.A.P. certification to take place at the same time.

22. How does the add-on relate to the existing FSA benchmarks?

The add-on may not be necessary for making FSA claims if GLOBALG.A.P. is already being used in combination with another standard that has been benchmarked against the FSA. In certain countries, an FSA claim can be made without the add-on. For more information on these topics, and for a full list of GLOBALG.A.P. benchmarking options, please refer to https://saiplatform.org/fsa/ and see the section ‘ Benchmarking Results and Planning’.

23. Is it possible to use the GGFSA add-on in conjunction with equivalent schemes as recognized by the GLOBALG.A.P. benchmarking process?

No. The GGFSA add-on was tailor-made to the GLOBALG.A.P. IFA standard for Crops and CfP standard only. Using it together with another program could create redundancy or gaps in FSA coverage which cannot be identified without a direct comparison.

24. I am an SAI Platform member, but not a member of GLOBALG.A.P. How can I see which of my suppliers are making FSA claims via the add-on?

As part of the collaboration between SAI Platform and GLOBALG.A.P., GGFSA observer roles will be given free of charge to SAI Platform members who wish to see which of their suppliers are making FSA claims via the add-on. To register, follow this link.

25. Is the add-on available within the FSA web application?

The add-on is not embedded in the FSA web app. It will still be possible to pre-answer the questions that are already being addressed by GLOBALG.A.P. The add-on covers the FSA content that is not covered in the GLOBALG.A.P. standards.

26. Whom do I contact to get started?

Please feel free to contact either SAI Platform at fsatool@saiplatform.org or GLOBALG.A.P. at customer_support@globalgap.org if you have any questions on how to get started. You can also always ask your certification body about including the GGFSA add-on as part of your work package with them.

27. How much does it cost to use?

The GGFSA add-on should save a significant amount of time and money by conducting audits in parallel as opposed to the previously unconnected way. However, the extra time it takes to audit the add-on will be factored into your CB’s rates.

During the pilot programs, we estimated that 2–3 hours were needed to inspect the additional 20 questions, depending on the size and complexity of the farm, and the number of FSA questions that require answering and supporting evidence. This is only an estimate, however. As soon as we gather more input and have assessed the quality of the audits done within a certain time, we will define a minimum auditing time.

28. How does Chain of Custody work for the GGFSA add-on?

The FSA does not require or provide guidance on Chain of Custody inspections. However, this can be arranged separately by your CB, such that it follows existing GLOBALG.A.P. procedures (Chain of Custody certification) for the GGFSA add-on.

29. Can a farm management group (FMG) coordinator answer questions on behalf of the farms, for example if a certain practice is controlled at the FMG level?

Yes, this is permitted, and it follows the FSA approach.

30. Can the GGFSA add-on be used for hop production?

Yes! Hop is a sub-scope of the Crops scope of the IFA standard for Crops and the CfP standard and hence, the GGFSA add-on can be used in combination with the IFA standard for Hop! Find more information about the Hop sub-scope by following this link!