Smart Farm Assurance Solutions Smart Farm Assurance Solutions

Revising the GLOBALG.A.P. Standards - Where are we now?

Over the last two years, GLOBALG.A.P. has been coordinating the revision of its flagship Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) standard as well as other GLOBALG.A.P. rules, standards, and add-ons.

Over the course of the revision process, it has become clear that this revision includes more than just a new version of the IFA standard (version 6). We are updating our whole portfolio of farm assurance solutions, including our services, to offer more streamlined, digitalized solutions for the entire sector. GLOBALG.A.P. farm assurance solutions are entering the smart era! Learn more about what this means in the FAQs below. 

What next for version 6?

The fourth and final public consultation period for the IFA standard for Fruit and Vegetables has now closed.

Based on all feedback received, the technical committees are now preparing the final standard documents for fruit and vegetables, flowers and ornamentals, and aquaculture. The final documents will be submitted to the GLOBALG.A.P. Advisory Board for approval in October.

What do we mean by smart farm assurance solutions? 


Smarter standards and add-ons

  • New and improved Integrated Farm Assurance standard version 6 
  • Smarter, risk-based checklists with integrated add-ons
  • Movement toward an outcome-oriented approach and impact-driven standards
  • More benchmarking options

Smarter systems and services

  • Easier audit reporting for certification bodies with Audit Online Hub
  • Uniform certificate templates across the industry available in real time with the Validation Service
  • Improvements to integrity of GLOBALG.A.P. certificates
  • Gradual movement toward personalized checklists with integrated add-ons

Smarter approach to sustainability 

  • Mandatory continuous improvement plans on producer level
  • Impact-Driven Approach to Sustainability made available to other scopes
  • New and updated sustainability criteria on topics such as plastics, waste, carbon neutrality, deforestation, and animal welfare
  • Dedicated biodiversity add-on

Smarter integration of data

  • New option for producers to demonstrate compliance using data
  • Producers control what they share
  • Possibility to reduce audit time using data sharing
  • More transparency in audit reports for buyers

IFA Version 6 FAQ

General questions on IFA version 6 system

1. Why are there two editions of IFA v6? What is the difference?

During the third public consultation phase, we received strong stakeholder feedback from our fruit and vegetable community that many elements of the latest IFA standard draft were still too prescriptive and did not suit the needs of the majority – i.e., those who do not need GFSI recognition. 

We have therefore decided to offer  two parallel editions of the IFA standard v6 in the future: one which is adapted to the requirements for GFSI recognition (based on the draft from the third public consultation) and a new edition put forward by our technical committees which uses a simplified, risk-based, outcome-oriented approach and is suitable for the majority of producers. 

These two editions will be known as: 

  1. IFA Version 6 Smart – Our flagship IFA standard, appropriate for the majority of producers 

  1. IFA Version 6 GFS – Our IFA standard amended to fit GFSI requirements for those producers who need GFSI recognized certification 

More detail on the content and the implications of choosing one edition over the other will be communicated following the approval from the Advisory Board. 

2. What will IFA v6 look like? What are the biggest changes since version 5?

IFA version 6 will be an all-around smarter standard that is more efficient for all stakeholders, more flexible, and more focused on sustainability aspects.  

IFA v6 still takes a holistic approach towards assurance of food safety, environmental sustainability, workers health and safety, and animal health and welfare elements through the following six topics: 
1. Legal, Management, and Traceability 
2. Production Process   
3. Food Safety 
4. Environmental Sustainability 
5. Worker Well-being 
6. Animal Health and Welfare (Aquaculture and Livestock only)
There will still be three scopes (Aquaculture, Plants, and Livestock), but these scopes will no longer be further divided into sub-scopes. Certification bodies will need to apply for accreditation to one (or multiple) scopes and will then be eligible to provide certification for all production processes that fall under that scope. They will no longer be required to apply for accreditation for sub-scopes. 
The main changes for version 6 are: 

1. Transition from a prescriptive standard to an outcome-oriented approach
2. Streamlined, risk-based checklists
3. A more digital, data-driven certification experience 
4. New and improved criteria on environment/sustainability issues
5. Introduction of a continuous improvement plan
6. See more about these changes in the following FAQ.

See more about these changes in the following FAQ. 

3. What does the transition from a prescriptive standard to an outcome-oriented approach mean in practical terms? Why was this decision made?

Outcome-oriented means that instead of checklist control points that look at the measures implemented at farm level, the checklist criteria examine the outcomes of the measures implemented at farm level. As part of this, control points and compliance criteria are being replaced by principles and criteria.

Previously, checklist control points were written in question form. The new “principles” take the form of a statement. The “criteria” outline ways in which producers can prove the principle to be true.

This change was made to support the move to a less prescriptive, more outcome-oriented approach. Principles and criteria offer producers more freedom since they can demonstrate compliance in a way that fits their production practices – whether it be with data, a procedure, a record, or an observation (depending on the principle).

Example for Water Management:

Previous Control Point: Is treated sewage water only used when the risks are identified and effectively mitigated?

New Principle: The use of treated sewage water does not pose a food safety risk.

Previous Compliance Criteria: Untreated sewage is not used for irrigation/fertigation or other pre-harvest activities. Where treated sewage water or reclaimed water is used, water quality shall comply with prevailing regulations or the WHO-published “ Guidelines for the Safe Use of Wastewater and Excreta in Agriculture and Aquaculture 2006” where no prevailing regulations exist. When the water may be coming from a possibly polluted source (e.g., because of a village upstream, etc.) the producer shall demonstrate through analysis that the water complies with local legislation and requirements or with the WHO guideline requirements where no prevailing regulations exist. No N/A.

New Criteria: Treated sewage water is only used when the risks are identified and effectively mitigated. Where treated sewage water or reclaimed water is used, water quality shall comply with prevailing regulations or the WHO-published “Guidelines for the Safe Use of Wastewater and Excreta in Agriculture and Aquaculture 2006” where no prevailing regulations exist.

When water has the potential to be polluted (e.g., upstream contamination source), the producer shall demonstrate through analysis that the water complies with prevailing regulations and requirements or with the WHO guideline requirements where no prevailing regulations exist.

Untreated sewage is not used for irrigation/fertigation or other pre-harvest activities.

No N/A.

4. In what ways are the checklists becoming more streamlined?

Checklists will be streamlined in two ways:

1. Checklists will be customized to a certain extent. Instead of downloading static checklists from the document center for their respective standards and add-ons, producers will receive a personalized checklist that combines the principles and criteria applicable for them. This customization is enabled by a selection process that uses a series of questions to filter the producer’s certification requirements and generate one checklist.

2. Checklists will be risk-based. The principles and criteria that do not apply or for which there is evidence to prove there is no risk of non-conformance will be automatically blended out from the audit checklist prior to download. For example, the level of risk that the producer poses for potential non-conformance may be dependent on country, product type, use of GMOs, etc

5. What does “digital, data-driven certification experience” mean?

Producers will have the option to submit data to demonstrate compliance. This could help to reduce the audit burden for producers since auditors may spend less time reviewing criteria on the farm if data (which producers are often already collecting) is submitted in advance. 

6. What does “continuous improvement” mean, and why was it introduced?

Until recently, continuous improvement referred to the improvement of farm assurance standards over time through regular updates. Now, for the first time, continuous improvement will be relevant on an individual producer level.

Within the context of IFA v6, all producers will be required to implement a continuous improvement plan where they analyze their current practices and identify “hot spots” that can be improved upon by attributing clear goals. For example, a producer may notice (through aggregated data provided by the Impact-Driven Approach) that their use of resources is much higher than that of similar farms. A continuous improvement plan would outline realistic and feasible goals to improve upon (e.g., in this producer’s case, improving energy efficiency and reducing pesticide use). Progress should be reviewed annually during the self-assessment, and the plan should be revised as needed.

The notion of continuous improvement aims to help producers demonstrate their efforts not only toward sustainability and protecting the environment but also in terms of food safety and worker health and safety.

Questions on IFA version 6 certification

1. Will IFA v6 be an accredited standard?

IFA v6 will be accredited, the same as previous versions. For more information, see this list of accreditation bodies.

2. Will IFA v6 have GFSI recognition?

During the third public consultation phase, we received the feedback that some elements of the IFA v6 Fruit and Vegetables standard are still too prescriptive and did not suit the needs of those who do not need GFSI recognition. It was decided that in order to offer a standard which is simplified and truly offers a risk-based, outcome-oriented approach, there will need to be a separate solution for those that need GFSI recognition. GLOBALG.A.P. is committed to offering an option with GFSI recognition for those that need it. This results in two IFA editions: a v6 edition which is suitable for the majority of producers and a v6 edition which will be adapted for GFSI requirements. 

3. Will there be minimum requirements for IFA v6? I.e., will there be a clear indication of what it means to have a GLOBALG.A.P. certificate for version 6?

Yes, there will be a minimum set of principles and criteria for IFA v6.
A GLOBALG.A.P. certificate for version 6 will offer confirmation that a universal set of criteria have been met covering food safety, worker health and safety, environmental sustainability, and animal welfare (where applicable).

4. What will a GLOBALG.A.P. certificate for version 6 look like?

IFA v6 certificates will be standardized thanks to a template made available to certification bodies in the GLOBALG.A.P. Validation Service. An example of this certificate will be published in advance. There will be separate certificates for each scope (Aquaculture, Plants, and Livestock).

5. Will there still be certification options for both individual producers and producer groups?

Yes, individual and group certification will still be available.

Questions on add-ons and other standards

1. Will there be any major changes to the current portfolio of standards and add-ons?

No. The current portfolio of standards and add-ons will still exist but may interact differently to support streamlined checklists.

2. Will GRASP be combinable with IFA v6?

Yes, GRASP will continue to be combinable with IFA and will remain a GGN label requirement.

3. How will Chain of Custody (CoC) be combined with IFA v6?

CoC will function in the same way as the current IFA v5 and CoC combination. It will remain a requirement for the GGN label. 

4. How will benchmarking work in the future?

Schemes will be able to benchmark against IFA v6 or some combinations of the five smart modules. 

5. How do smart farm assurance solutions support sustainability efforts?

1. IFA v6 has a module dedicated to environmental sustainability. Some principles and criteria have been developed based on the control points and compliance criteria from version 5, but some criteria are new or more demanding. Sustainability within version 6 concentrates on:  

  • Food waste
  • Plastics 
  • Carbon neutrality 
  • Deforestation 
  • Animal welfare

2. The Impact-Driven Approach to Sustainability – currently only active in the floriculture sector – will be expanded to other sectors. The Impact-Driven Approach involves the collection of farm metrics, which may be done through a farm management system. The data is aggregated and analyzed by GLOBALG.A.P. tools and returned to producers in the form of historical trend graphs and progress reports. Reports of aggregated data may be used to demonstrate the impact of implementing IFA. In addition, this data processing can influence the risk profile of producers over time and potentially reduce audit time. Learn more about the Impact-Driven Approach here.

3. There will be a dedicated biodiversity add-on that will enable producers to demonstrate they are going the extra mile on sustainability issues.

6. How does the move toward smarter farm assurance solutions support the UN sustainable development goals?

GLOBALG.A.P. already makes a positive contribution to a number of the UN sustainable development goals through its standard criteria. With an extra focus on the environment and continuous improvement in IFA version 6, GLOBALG.A.P. is doubling down on its effort to accelerate the transformation of the global food and agriculture/aquaculture sector toward the 2030 goals

Questions on other systems and services

1. What role does the Audit Online Hub play in the future of smart solutions?

The Audit Online Hub is a tool that GLOBALG.A.P. approved certification bodies use to gather and submit audit data. GLOBALG.A.P. began implementing this system in 2019, and it will now be expanded to other standards. Generally speaking, audit data will be submitted via the Audit Online Hub before the certification body can award a GLOBALG.A.P. certificate.

2. What role does GLOBALG.A.P. Validation Service play in the transformation of GLOBALG.A.P. certification?

Previously, each paper certificate was created individually by certification bodies based on a set of required information that GLOBALG.A.P. provided. Validation was a possibility via online certificates in the database. Now, however, certification bodies can issue certificates via Validation Service. Certificates can only be generated in the Validation Service if there is corresponding audit data in the Audit Online Hub – i.e., the data has been validated. This strengthens the integrity of GLOBALG.A.P. certificates since fraudulent or invalid certificates (e.g., due to missing audit data) cannot be generated.

Validation Service will also result in uniform certificates, which means that traders will no longer need to compare the different certificates from each certification body.  

For certification bodies, Validation Service reduces workload by eliminating the duplication of both registering audit data in the GLOBALG.A.P. database and creating a separate, paper certificate. The overall improvement in efficiency is meant to keep audit costs for producers under control despite increasing sector requirements.

3. What role does the Certification Body Administration Tool (CB-AT) have to play?

CB-AT is a system for managing auditor qualifications. GLOBALG.A.P. approved CBs must register their auditors and their respective qualifications into the system so that the GLOBALG.A.P. Secretariat can (re-)approve them for auditing duties as appropriate. The CB-AT system further strengthens the integrity of the GLOBALG.A.P. system.

4. I understand GLOBALG.A.P. will require/store more data from producers. How will this data/certification information be used?

One example is the option for producers to submit data as proof of fulfilling standard criteria. Another example is the option for producers to allow wider sharing of their audit reports. Producers will continue to choose which data they want to share and with whom. They will be made aware of the impact of their choice whether to share specific data.

5. Will GLOBALG.A.P. continue to offer the GLOBALG.A.P. Remote procedure?

For many producers, remote audits will continue to be an option in emergency situations (e.g., a pandemic). Remote auditing is not available for producers seeking FSFA certification and therefore is also unavailable for those who require GFSI recognition.

6. Will the third-party certification system remain in place?

For all mainstream and accredited standards, third-party certification will remain. Eventually there may be a possibility of second party and/or self-assessments in the future for a limited number of lesser-used add-ons.