Social Justice Labeling from Farm to Table
“Eating is an agricultural act.”
– Wendell Berry
Food Justice Certified is a label based on high-bar social justice standards for farms, processors, and retailers, including every link in the food chain from farm to table. Our approach is holistic; we ensure fair treatment of workers, fair pricing for farmers, and fair business practices. FJC is designed for all agricultural production systems, fiber and cosmetics as well as food.
In 1999, disappointed that the U.S. National Organic Program’s standards did not address the people involved in organic agriculture, Michael Sligh of the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI – USA), Richard Mandelbaum of Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores Agrícolas/Farmworker Support Committee (CATA), Marty Mesh of Florida Organic Growers (FOG), and Elizabeth Henderson of Peacework Organic Farm began a stakeholder process to develop standards for the fair and just treatment of the people involved in organic and sustainable agriculture.
While their experience was in North America, they set out to create standards that could be adapted for use anywhere in the world. They began with a review of existing social standards and then assembled a first draft of what became “Toward Social Justice and Economic Equity in the Food System: A Call for Social Stewardship Standards in Sustainable and Organic Agriculture.”
They circulated this draft to organic farmers and organic farming associations, non-profits, certification programs, eco-labeling experts, and labor and farm labor organizations. CATA also engaged in an internal process through which the organization’s farmworker members provided input to the worker standards. For two years, AJP circulated successive drafts of their standards to stakeholders in the US and abroad and received comments from around the world. To make the document accessible to a wider audience, they arranged for translations into Spanish and French. With each major revision of the document they circulated the new draft to those who had commented on previous drafts, as well as to people new to the project.