European Roundtable for Beef Sustainability
- What is the European Roundtable for Beef Sustainability (ERBS)?
The European Roundtable for Beef Sustainability (ERBS) is a multi-stakeholder platform focused on beef sustainability across the European region and across all aspects of the value chain, from farm to fork.
- What is the mission of the ERBS?
The ERBS aims to provide a framework to achieve meaningful and demonstrable progress on beef sustainability to have a sustainable food system in which people, animals and the planet thrive. The beef value chain is recognised for delivering positive impacts, land stewardship, ecosystem benefits such as carbon sequestration and continuous improvement towards key sustainability priorities.
- Why is the ERBS needed?
The ERBS is needed to unite the activities of the European beef industry on its sustainability journey. To promote and recognise all aspects of the beef value chain for its delivery of measurable positive impacts and continuous improvements to key sustainability priorities.
The ERBS represents a multi-stakeholder voice across the beef value chain championing and progressing the sustainability credentials of European Beef and is linked to major international bodies such as the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.
- Who is involved in the ERBS?
The ERBS encompasses over 20 organisations with a European focus spanning the supply chain from farm to fork. Countries with ERBS Platforms currently include France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Poland and the UK. Within each Platform, there is a wider network of organisations working together within that country to achieve the ERBS targets.
Additionally, the ERBS links with SAI Platform to draw involvement and expertise from sustainability professionals across a range of sectors. Involvement is welcomed from any organisation with an interest in improving the sustainability of beef production in Europe. As part of policy development, public consultations are conducted regularly to ensure views of non-members are included in the direction of ERBS.
- How is the ERBS governed?
Having evolved from SAI Platform’s Beef Working Group, the ERBS has its own defined governance arrangements and elected board. The ERBS also has subgroups such as the Technical Working Group, which defines the details behind targets, processes and the recognition framework.
- How is the ERBS linked to the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef?
The ERBS represents the European beef value chain as one voice on the global stage, through its active participation in the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB). The work of the ERBS is underpinned by the principles of the GRSB.
- How does the ERBS work with NGOs?
Europe has diverse production systems and climates, there are many long-standing schemes, programmes and initiatives in place which aim to improve the sustainability of beef production. The ERBS brings stakeholders from existing programmes together in a pre-competitive environment to establish a common agenda, encourage mutually beneficial activities and accelerate the delivery of sustainability.
Rather than creating new standards, the ERBS recognises and reinforces national and local programmes. It encourages and supports stakeholders to develop their own approach, go beyond compliance, demonstrate continuous improvement, and work towards measurable sustainability outcomes.
- How does the ERBS work with policy makers?
Launched in 2018, the ERBS has worked to define a role within the busy framework of food production initiatives. Many of the Platforms recognised have active involvement or support from government agencies and we look to continue this engagement on the European stage in future years.
- Is the ERBS an independent body?
The direction of ERBS is defined by its members and the governance arrangements are designed to ensure representation from all parts of the food chain to ensure decisions are taken for collective good. The Secretariat and staff support is provided by SAI Platform.
- How can people get involved in the ERBS?
The ERBS welcomes new members. To find out more, contact: email@example.com
- Is there a cost?
There is a membership fee based on the type and size of business.
- What is SAI Platform?
The Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform (SAI Platform) is a global non-profit food and drink industry platform that develops sustainable agriculture solutions through member-driven pre-competitive collaboration.
- What is the link from the ERBS to SAI Platform?
The ERBS evolved from SAI Platform’s Beef Working Group, and now has its own defined governance arrangements and elected board. Support is still provided by SAI Platform’s Secretariat and staff.
- Can SAI Platform members become members of the ERBS?
Yes, SAI Platform members with a beef interest are welcome to join in ERBS meetings and work. Additionally, we welcome collaboration on projects between beef and the other farming sectors covered by SAI Platform.
- Are ERBS members automatically members of SAI Platform?
There is a separate membership arrangement to reflect the fact that, for some ERBS members, they are only interested in involvement in beef related activities. See Join us.
- Can I contribute or give my views to the ERBS without being a member?
The ERBS runs public consultations on strategic matters including materiality assessments to identify and prioritise target areas. We welcome feedback on our work, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- What are the priority areas?
The four priority areas for the ERBS are:
- Animal medicines
- Animal health and welfare
- Farm Management
- How were the priority areas determined?
The priority areas were determined using consolidated materiality assessments in six European countries with input from over 150 stakeholders across Europe. Following this, outcome targets were identified in each area and, in 2018, a public consultation was undertaken with the objective of gathering insights and input on these targets. The consultation survey was shared directly with key stakeholders and available online on the SAI Platform website for a period of 60 days.
Through this process, stakeholders provided feedback on the following:
- Whether the outcome targets were both appropriate and ambitious enough to drive meaningful progress across a diverse European beef industry.
- The difficulty level to achieve the targets.
- Recommendations for improvement.
- What are the targets?
1.1. Outcome Target: An intensity reduction of 15% in GHG emissions by 2025, with the aim of setting a future target that recognises the positive role beef production can contribute to mitigating climate change through reduction strategies and sequestration.
2. Animal Medicines
2.1. Outcome Target: Total usage of antibiotics below 10mg/Kg PCU by 2023.
2.2. Outcome Target: Reductions of 50% in the use of HP-CIAs by 2023.
3. Animal health and welfare
3.1. Outcome Target: Target mortality rates are below 1.5%. For systems with mortality rates above this target, a year on year reduction of 20% should be achieved.
3.2. Outcome Target: All animals have access to loose housing (when housed) by 2030.
3.3. Outcome Target: All animals are given pain relief (analgesics) for all surgical procedures and for all forms of castration, dehorning and disbudding.
4. Farm management
4.1. Outcome Target: A reduction in serious accidents on farm and a reduction in fatalities with an overall target of zero.
4.2. Outcome Target: Financially viable farms that have a business plan in place.
- How were the targets defined?
The targets were defined from the priority areas based on materiality analysis responses from stakeholders across Europe.
- Do the targets align with other existing programmes?
Where possible, the targets align with leading existing initiatives in action across Europe.
- Why isn’t there a target for water use or soil health?
When first established, the SAI Platform Beef Working Groups’ focus was on defining a holistic set of 39 beef sustainability principles – from water quality to worker rights. However, achieving change at farm level and at European scale means focusing our efforts on a handful of key priorities, rather than trying to tackle everything at once.
Platforms can identify additional sustainability targets relevant to their country level materiality analysis.
- Is the ERBS planning to set more targets?
The targets provide a common goal for Platforms within the ERBS. We will continuously develop these targets to drive beef sustainability and maintain relevance within the industry.
- How many farmers are engaged in the ERBS?
We estimate that there are over 214,000 farms who are linked to current ERBS Platforms, which represent around 14% of European bovine farms.
- How does ERBS know if Platforms are on track to hit the targets?
We expect Platforms to report progress annually to ERBS and proactively adjust their activity accordingly to maintain their progress against the targets.
- What commitments are the rest of the supply chain making?
While the ERBS targets are focused on farm level sustainability, members and Platforms engage all parts of the supply chain and are involved in various other sustainability initiatives. The majority of ERBS members have internal sustainability strategies, covering, for example targets to reduce waste, water, energy, and GHG emissions in their business operations.
- Why are Platforms needed?
Europe has diverse production systems and climates, the platforms recognise the diversity of production systems across Europe and therefore the different platform systems fills the need to build on existing local initiatives and provide the flexibility to work together in a locally-relevant way whilst representing the full value chain.
- What is the impact of the Platforms in terms of industry coverage and involvement?
We estimate that there are over 214,000 farms who are linked to current ERBS Platforms. There are over 20 members engaged in ERBS directly with many more organisations represented through Platforms.
The ERBS brings stakeholders together in a pre-competitive environment to establish a common agenda, encourage mutually beneficial activities and accelerate the delivery of sustainability across the whole industry.
- How do I get involved in a Platform?
If you would like to learn more or get involved then please contact the ERBS Director – Rozanne Davis at email@example.com
- I’m already undertaking activity in the target areas; will this duplicate this work?
Work that is already being done can be incorporated into your targets and ensure there is no duplication of work. The work will then be part of the recognition process.
- Why are the Platforms not all the same?
Europe has diverse production systems and climates. The Platforms recognise the diversity of production systems across Europe. They are therefore all different to allow them to work together in a locally relevant way whilst representing the full value chain.
- What commitment do I need to make to get involved in or set up a new Platform?
Involvement will differ across Europe and is depending on the Platform, but it would require organisations and farmers to be willing to work towards the ERBS targets. If no Platform exists within a country, any beef stakeholder is welcome to set up a new Platform aligned with the ERBS targets. For further information, speak with Bulle Pouzoulet, the ERBS Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Do Platforms have aims to develop and grow?
All Platforms are different, some relate to specific supply chains and others have a country-level focus. Each Platform will be aiming to engage farmers more closely and increase knowledge of activities of the Platform.
- How do Platform members talk about their involvement?
ERBS is there to coordinate discussions across Europe with stakeholders and recognise European Platforms working towards these targets. Platforms report annually to the ERBS on their progress on the targets. The Platforms have autonomy to communicate about how they are meeting their goals at a country level, while the ERBS will communicate updates on country and pan-European level.
- Is there an on-pack mark we can use to show we source from farmers involved in a recognised Platform?
No – but members can communicate their support for the work of the ERBS to their customers and on their organisations’ websites.
The ERBS recognition framework is not a traceability or assurance scheme but rather a set of targets to help demonstrate the positive work that is being done and make meaningful progress.
- Do all the farmers in a Platform need to meet the targets?
Through consultation with the industry, we know the targets being set are challenging but they are also appropriate and achievable. These targets are here to help farmers make positive improvements and there is no requirement for them to be used as a compliance tool. The ERBS is there to monitor activity that is taking place in Europe and align this with recognisable targets.
- How do the Platforms gather information for the targets?
Information gathering is all done in a manner agreed with the ERBS and stakeholders within the Platform. You can find more detailed information in the Platform Profiles in the ERBS Resource Centre.
Farm Sustainability Assessment
- What is the Farm Sustainability Assessment?
Developed by SAI Platform, the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) is a toolset for companies in the agricultural value chain that want to assess, improve and validate on-farm sustainability performance in their supply chains. The tools enable effective and efficient supply chain collaboration right down to the level of the farmer.
- How does the FSA define on-farm sustainability performance?
The focus of the FSA is mainly on farming practices. The FSA Self-Assessment Questionnaire has ten topic areas that cover legal, environmental, social, and business dimensions of farming practice. The FSA Continuous Improvement Module offers possibilities to also work at landscape level or zoom in on changing the impact of farming.
- Does the FSA apply to farms in my supply chain?
The Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) is applicable to all agricultural crops, in all locations, regardless of farm size or type. Over 100,000 farmers in more than 30 countries around the world belong to FSA verified farm groups. They produce a wide and expanding range of row crops, fruit, vegetables, nuts, herbs and spices.
- How can the FSA provide me with assurance about on-farm sustainability performance?
The FSA is a farm-level self-assessment and is typically applied to a group of farms. It is possible to have the results of the self-assessment verified through an independent third-party audit process. This can result in an FSA Performance Level Claim at Bronze, Silver, and Gold level. The FSA claim provides businesses with the assurance that ingredients were produced by farms dedicated to continuous improvement and operating at the desired performance level.
- Do we have to be a SAI Platform to use the FSA?
No, the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) toolset is freely available to all users. The tools and materials can be accessed through the FSA Resource Centre. However, SAI Platform members benefit from exclusive access to the FSA Web App, as well as receiving close support on FSA implementation and communication. Members are also actively involved in the governance and development of the FSA. Follow the link to learn more about the benefits of SAI Platform membership.
- Is the FSA a certification standard?
No, the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) is a set of tools that is designed to engage farms in assessing and improving their sustainability performance. It is centred around an on-farm self-assessment that can be implemented on a single farm or with a group of farms. The results of the self-assessment can be independently verified by a third-party Verification Body. This results in a Letter of Attestation to support an FSA Bronze / Silver / Gold claim related to the product(s) produced by the farm(s) to customers. The FSA provides business-to-business assurance of on-farm sustainability performance. It is not allowed to make consumer facing sustainability claims on product or through advertisement.
Value and Benefits
- How do farmers benefit from using the FSA?
Demonstrating farm sustainability performance is quickly becoming a standard customer requirement around the world. The Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) offers farmers an efficient possibility to report against an internationally recognised framework. The FSA also provides farmers with a model to collectively improve farm sustainability performance with the support of supply chain partners, while getting the recognition for it that they deserve.
- How do businesses benefit from using the FSA?
The Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) provides businesses that buy raw or processed agricultural ingredients with an efficient approach to drive and demonstrate on-farm sustainability in their supply chains. Using a single international, industry-agreed reference for on-farm sustainability performance and the rest of the FSA toolset enables businesses to engage their farmers and suppliers with flexibility and consistency. It provides a solid foundation for delivering on your sustainability targets and the opportunity to communicate about it with confidence.
- What are the costs of implementing the FSA?
The Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) is an open access and free to use toolset for companies in the agricultural value chain. Implementing the FSA will require a time investment to agree on the ambition and bring suppliers and farmers with you on your journey. If you buy directly from farms, implementing the FSA will require the set-up of a FSA Management System and support for your farms to self-assess against the FSA. If you are looking to make FSA performance claims based on the self-assessment results, third-party verification is required. The cost for doing all this varies, depending on your ambitions, the current level of organisation in your supply base and the size and characteristics of your farm group.
- Who develops and maintains the FSA?
The Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) has been developed by the members of the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform (SAI Platform) since 2014. Companies working in different sectors and in different parts of the supply chain work together to constantly update and complement the toolset. This explains why the toolset is highly practical and fulfils the needs of all players in the agricultural value chain. SAI Platform members are supported by the SAI Platform Secretariat as well as by subject matter experts to ensure the tools are effective in improving on-farm sustainability performance.
- Is the FSA supported as credible by stakeholders outside the industry?
The Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) was developed with expert input from people inside and outside of the industry, including leading NGOs, universities, farmers and their representative groups. SAI Platform uses their input and builds on well-recognised existing sustainability schemes to continuously develop the FSA. It is therefore seen as both a credible and complementary tool for assessing sustainable agricultural practices and driving on-farm sustainability performance.
- What are the benefits of using the online FSA Web App instead of the offline tools?
The FSA Web App is an online solution designed to make it easy to aggregate, analyse and share FSA information along the supply chain in a single system. Whether you are a farmer, a farm group coordinator or a buyer of agricultural ingredients, the FSA Web App empowers you to generate the insights you need to drive and demonstrate on-farm sustainability in your business. The FSA Web App enables Verification Bodies to tap into one central database for preparing and performing their audits. The FSA Web App is exclusively available to SAI Platform members and their suppliers.
Farm Level Implementation
- What are my options for demonstrating FSA performance level of farms?
The Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) offers three basic routes to demonstrate FSA performance
- Direct implementation means the farm(s) perform an FSA Self-assessment in line with the FSA Implementation Framework. The results must be externally verified if you want to make an FSA claim.
- You can also choose to use a sustainability scheme that has FSA Benchmarking Equivalence. This is useful if the farmers have already been third-party assessed against an alternative scheme to the FSA.
- Finally, we have hybrid options for farms that are already GLOBALG.A.P. certified or engaged in Field to Market.
Learn how to make the choice that works best for you in the FSA Learning Centre.
- I want to use the FSA with my supplying farmers. How do I get started?
The Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) is typically implemented with a group of farms. The company that organises the group is called the Farm Management Group (FMG) Co-ordinator, which is usually the first buyer of the farms. FMG Co-ordinators can visit the FSA Learning Centre for step-by-step guidance to using the FSA in their business and with their farms.
- The FSA Self-Assessment Questionnaire may be difficult for my farmers to understand. How do I help them to complete it?
The Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) is a list of highly generic questions because it needs to be applicable to all crop farming worldwide. We recommend supporting farmers in answering these questions. This can be done by adapting the questions to the specific farming context and by providing hands-on support when farmers fill out the FSA. Using the FSA Topic Guides and FSA Training Toolkit will help you to support farmers in this process.
- Is the FSA always implemented with a group of farms, or can it be used by a single farm as well?
The Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) can be implemented on a single farm as well as in a group of farms. Implementation with a stand-alone farm has the benefit of simplified FSA Management System requirements. However, you lose out on the efficiencies that collaboration and sampling bring to group level implementation.
- How does the FSA enable farms to demonstrate that they continue to improve their performance?
The Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) requires a group of farms to have a joint plan in place to improve their performance. This so-called Continuous Improvement Plan must be time-bound, have clear targets and responsibilities assigned to make it happen. An independent third-party auditor will check if the plan meets basic requirements as part of the FSA Management System Audit.
- How does FSA Verification work?
Once the FSA has been implemented, it is possible to have the results independently verified through an audit. A SAI Platform accredited Verification Body will first conduct an FSA Management System audit to confirm that the organisational requirements for implementing the FSA are met. This will take between one and two days, depending on the complexity, size, and level of preparation for the organisation. The auditor will then verify the self-assessments of a small sample of farms in the group or the stand-alone farm at which the FSA is being implemented. A farm audit typically takes half a day. The auditor will confirm the audit findings in a report and issue a Letter of Attestation that states the performance level of the group or stand-alone farm.
- I see there are two versions of the FSA that I can work with: FSA 2.1 and FSA 3.0. Which one should I use?
We released version FSA 3.0 in April 2021, marking the start of an 18 month phase out period of the previous version FSA 2.1. We recommend using version 3.0 as it will provide you with a better user experience and your customers with a higher level of assurance. It is possible to have FSA Letters of Attestation being issued against version FSA 2.1 until the end of October 2022. This is mainly to accommodate farm groups that have already started FSA implementation before the launch of version FSA 3.0.
Supply Chain Implementation
- How can our company use the FSA as a toolset for sustainable sourcing of agricultural ingredients?
A growing number of businesses around the world use the FSA for sustainable sourcing of agricultural ingredients. Your company can easily define product specifications at FSA Bronze, Silver or Gold level and use this reference with flexibility and consistency across your entire sourcing portfolio. The FSA offers your suppliers a variety of routes to demonstrate their commitment to sustainable agriculture. And with more and more companies defining sustainable sourcing in FSA terms, you are increasing your chances of successfully engaging your suppliers on your sustainability journey.
- Can our company use the FSA to promote our products to consumers?
The name and label of the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA) are not allowed to be used on consumer packaging or in product advertisement. You can communicate about your use of the FSA via online consumer communications such as sustainability reporting. FSA Performance Level Claims can only be made based on third-party verification results. Please consult the Guide to making FSA statements and claims for guidance on making FSA Performance Level Claims.
- Are there any Chain of Custody requirements to make FSA claims?
No, companies are free to determine their own traceability requirements to support FSA volume claims. At farm group level, the Farm Sustainability Assessment requires a mass-balance approach to traceability. Third-party verification, a pre-condition for making FSA Claims, will include an audit of the traceability system at farm group level.
- My company’s interest goes beyond assessing current sustainability performance. How does the FSA help to drive and measure impact improvements?
The FSA is designed to drive relevant and demonstrable continuous improvement of on-farm performance through supply chain engagement. It includes the use of tools to identify priority topics for farm groups to work on, requires a continuous improvement plan to be in place and offers ways of measuring the environmental and social impact of improvement plans. Most importantly, the FSA offers avenues for your company to engage your suppliers all the way down to farm level on your sustainability journey.
- Where can I find more information about FSA benchmarked schemes?
We have benchmarked over 100 schemes to version FSA 2.1 giving them a partial, Bronze, Silver or Gold equivalence level. You can find the benchmarking result in the Benchmarking Overview. These results will remain valid until October 2022, as we start to re-benchmark sustainable agriculture schemes against FSA 3.0. The process for benchmarking and more guidance on how to use this tool can be found in the Benchmarking Protocol .
- What is regenerative agriculture?
SAI Platform defines regenerative agriculture as an outcome-based farming approach that protects and improves soil health, biodiversity, climate, and water resources with the premise to improve, or at a minimum, maintain farmer livelihoods.
The current definition underlines farmer profitability as foundational and acknowledges that thriving farm communities, as well as securing food and nutrition security, are critical in supporting regenerative outcomes. We will expand our framework to include socio-economic outcomes in the future.
- What is the purpose of SAI Platform’s Regenerating Together programme?
Our Regenerating Together programme has been developed by SAI Platform in response to a need for an aligned approach for the industry. It builds a common understanding of the definition of regenerative agriculture and how to structure and scale regenerative agriculture globally. It enables the food and drink industry to advance the urgently needed transformation and to create impact at scale by addressing the multiplication of regenerative agriculture standards and schemes, which cause extra work for supply chains, complexity at farmer level and confusion amongst procurement teams.
- What is SAI Platform’s Regenerating Together programme?
Our global Regenerating Together programme helps the food and beverage industry transition their supply chains to regenerative agriculture. The programme consists of three components:
- An Outcome-based Framework. The Regenerating Together framework illustrates an industry-wide definition of impact areas, regenerative agriculture outcomes, and their related metrics to avoid duplication of standards and definitions for regenerative agriculture.
- An Assessment Tool. The assessment tool is a solution for farmers and farm advisors to conduct a self-assessment based on our framework. It allows for data consolidation on regenerative outcomes to track progress towards regenerative agriculture at farm and supply shed level.
- Transition Support. This package of resources aims to support actors along the value chain to transition towards regenerative agriculture. It includes guidance on implementing the framework and using the assessment tool, a webinar series for continued learning and an online resource centre to share case studies, fostering collaboration and peer-to-peer learning.
Value and Benefits
- Why should I use SAI Platform’s Regenerating Together framework?
The Regenerating Together framework is a key component of our programme by offering a single and widely accepted way to assess regenerative agriculture principles worldwide. This framework is an industry-wide approach that uses a common language agreed upon by the food and beverage sector globally. At the same time, it acknowledges the diversity of farming practices and geographies by building reporting flexibility. The programme has the ambition to go beyond “just” defining a framework for regenerative agriculture but to provide solutions and guide action for implementation. It enables brands to guide and support farmers to implement, measure, and improve regenerative capacity using a common assessment tool.
- How do farmers benefit from using SAI Platform’s Regenerating Together framework?
With the increasing demand for regeneratively produced raw materials from consumers and retailers, SAI Platform’s Regenerating Together framework offers farmers the possibility to demonstrate and report on progress made on farms. SAI Platform’s assessment tool provides farmers with a structured model to do so with the support of supply chain partners while gaining the recognition they deserve.
- How do businesses benefit from using SAI Platform’s Regenerating Together framework?
Aligning a common definition for regenerative agriculture and outcome metrics allows for a cost-effective and standardised approach to assess and report on regenerative agriculture efforts. Using a single international, industry-agreed reference for on-farm regenerative performance enables businesses to engage their farmers and suppliers with flexibility in local implementation and consistency in global reporting. It provides a solid foundation for delivering on business sustainability targets, as well as the opportunity to communicate results with confidence.
- What are the costs of implementing SAI Platform’s Regenerating Together framework?
Our Regenerating Together framework is open access and free to use for companies in the agricultural value chain. Implementing the framework will require a time investment to agree on the ambition and bring suppliers and farmers with you on your transition journey. If you buy directly from farms, implementing the framework will require the set-up of a supply shed and support for your farms to self-assess against the framework questionnaire.
If you are looking to make regenerative agriculture claims, third-party verification will be required. The cost for doing so will vary, depending on your ambitions, the current level of organisation in your supply base and the size and characteristics of your supply shed. The assurance protocol and claims guidance will be available for members in My SAI Platform.
- Who is engaged in the development of SAI Platform’s Regenerating Together programme?
Food and beverage companies working in different parts of the supply chain work together to constantly update and improve the programme, ensuring the deliverables are practical and able to fulfil the needs of all players in the agricultural value chain. SAI Platform members are supported by the SAI Platform Secretariat as well as by subject matter experts, including farmers, academia and NGOs, to ensure the programme is effective in supporting members to transition towards regenerative agriculture.
- I want to transition towards regenerative agriculture. How do I get started?
Our implementation guidance aims to provide actionable advice to implement SAI Platform’s global framework for regenerative agriculture. The guidance is intended to serve as a lean, living document that will grow over time in terms of content and user cases. It links best-practice case studies and new research on the topic of regenerative agriculture which will be provided through our resource library on My SAI Platform.
In addition, using our assessment tool allows you to easily follow the framework process flow and start developing local transition plans with your suppliers and farmers to assess and report on progress. Our assessment tool, with a step-by-step user handbook, can be found on My SAI Platform.
- What are the steps to implementing SAI Platform’s Regenerating Together framework?
The framework can be implemented using the four-step process:
- understanding the local context and identifying key environmental risks of a given farm or production system,
- selecting outcomes to report progress against across the four impact areas (soil health, biodiversity, water and climate),
- selecting and implementing practices to achieve improved performance on prioritised outcomes,
- setting baselines for outcomes, monitoring, assessing and verifying outcomes.
- I am already using the FSA. Can I continue with the FSA assessment and make regenerative agriculture claims?
Yes. Many members already use the FSA to report their sustainable sourcing commitments and have indicated a desire to use the platform to report on regenerative agriculture efforts. We are currently developing a regenerative agriculture bolt-on module for the FSA. The Regenerating Together framework, with its respective regenerative agriculture outcomes and practices, will be integrated into the FSA questionnaire. This will provide FSA users with a seamless assessment and verification process for making regenerative agriculture claims.
- How is the context analysis conducted?
SAI Platform developed a list of questions to guide a context analysis of a farm, at a supply shed or farm level. Conducting a context analysis helps farmers and subject matter experts build a shared understanding of risk exposure and supports the development of a management strategy by identifying key outcomes to prioritise actions and report performance against.
- Which outcomes should famers work towards improving?
The results of the context analysis influence the outcome selection for each farm or supply shed. The regenerative agriculture outcomes included in our framework have been identified as important indicators that serve as measurable proxies to report performance against the four impact areas. They have been selected based on current scientific consensus, empirical evidence, and farm applicability to maximise positive impact on the ground. The list will evolve as more scientific discoveries and empirical evidence emerge. Outcomes are measured using credible measurement tools (e.g., Cool Farm Tool), for which validation criteria are provided.
- How do farmers select appropriate practices?
Farmers can freely select practices with the condition that they lead to improved performance on the prioritised outcomes. SAI Platform provides a list of suggested practices to contribute to improved performance against outcomes. This list is non-exhaustive and will continue to evolve as we collect feedback and evidence on farms.
A transition plan is then developed by selecting appropriate practices and/or management changes to work towards improved performance on the selected outcomes. The plan documents farmer decisions and timelines as they address field- and farm-level concerns.
- Has SAI Platform defined levels to assess the state of farms?
Currently, we have two distinctions of farms transitioning towards regenerative agriculture:
Engaged in regenerative agriculture
To be considered engaged in regenerative agriculture, the farm completed steps 1-3 of the framework implementation flow.
- Conducts a context analysis and identifies the primary risk criteria in a production area.
- Selects appropriate outcomes to report performance against the most material risk criteria in at least two impact areas.
- Selects and implements practices that improve the performance of selected outcomes across at least two impact areas.
Advanced in regenerative agriculture
To be considered advanced in regenerative agriculture, the farm fulfils the ‘engaged’ requirements and additionally completes step 4 of the framework implementation flow.
- Established baselines and reports on improved performance against outcomes in at least two impact areas.
Sustainable Dairy Partnership
- What is the Sustainable Dairy Partnership (SDP) and what is its value?
The SDP is a global approach to dairy sustainability in commercial relationships between dairy buyers and processors.
To avoid reinventing the wheel, the SDP builds on the Dairy Sustainability Framework (DSF) and its 11 criteria. Without imposing a new standard, the SDP recognises national and company programmes.
Through the five stages of the Sustainable Dairy Partnership, processors strengthen their sustainability management system and report their progress and impacts. The SDP is a roadmap to sustainability for dairy processors, resulting in a simple, usable report for dairy buyers.
- Who is part of the Sustainable Dairy Partnership?
The SDP is hosted and facilitated by SAI Platform and the members of its Dairy Working Group who represent approximately 30% of the global milk volume. This is an industry supported effort where key global buyers, farmers and processors have been involved in the development of this unique approach.
The governance of the SDP is undertaken by a Steering Group drawn from the SAI Platform Dairy Working Group.
For more information: www.saiplatform.org
- What is the relationship between the Dairy Sustainability Framework (DSF) and the Sustainable Dairy Partnership?
The DSF provides a global framework for a holistic, pre-competitive and collaborative approach to sustainability in the dairy value chain.
The SDP is the application of the DSF in a commercial environment, helping drive supply chain efficiencies and reduce duplication between suppliers and dairy buyers.
The partnership is a commitment to the DSF and a collaborative and common approach to assurance and reporting. It will help the global dairy sector to scale success.
Processors are required to be members of the DSF to complete the first stage of the SDP.
- What is the supply chain scope of the SDP?
The SDP is a farm only programme. It is designed to include activities up to the farm gate. Farm inputs such as fodder are also within the scope. However, it does not include milk transport or processing.
- What is the benefit of the Sustainable Dairy Partnership for farmers?
The SDP is designed to harmonise buyer sustainability programmes and reduce excessive farm audits.
- What is behind the name: Sustainable Dairy Partnership?
The name reinforces the idea of building a united alliance of organisations focused on the same objectives. It uses clear terms and recognised values.
How does the Sustainable Dairy Partnership work?
- Who can use the Sustainable Dairy Partnership?
The SDP can be used by any processor or buyer of dairy products.
- How can I join the Sustainable Dairy Partnership?
There are 2 ways of joining the SDP:
• As a member of SAI Platform
All SAI Platform members are entitled to join the SDP. Members have access to the Dairy Working Group and can participate in all projects developed by the group. Members also have access to all SAI Platform tools and can join other working groups.
• As an SDP User
Users will only have access to the SDP materials and related tools: technical documents, and the SDP Learning Center. Users are not part of the Dairy Working Group.
- Do I need to be a member of SAI Platform in order to join the Sustainable Dairy Partnership?
No, SDP users are not required to be SAI Platform members.
- Is there a cost to use the Sustainable Dairy Partnership?
The cost for using the Sustainable Dairy Partnership is still being finalised, however, the following agreed principles will apply:
- Cost to users should be as low as possible so the entry barriers for any dairy processor are limited.
- The model must become self-funding.
- Is there any relationship between the Sustainable Dairy Partnership and the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA)?
Both the SDP and the FSA have been developed in consultation by members of SAI Platform. They are practical toolsets to foster business to business collaboration for promoting on-farm sustainability, supported by independent third-party verification. The differences between the toolset reflect the differences between the dairy value chain and the crops-based value chain. The SDP is used at the level of the processor and buyer level, whereas the FSA is rooted in a farm-level self-assessment.
- What are the requirements processors need to meet in order to implement the SDP approach?
One of the elements of the SDP is the SDP Requirements document. It includes the requirements for each of the 5 stages and verification points to align dairy processors & buyers. This enables the processor to demonstrate the implementation progress of the Sustainable Dairy Partnership.
- What is the role of an “aggregator” in the Sustainable Dairy Partnership?
Aggregating members of the DSF, which are often national programmes, can support their member organisations to achieve a better performance and progress through the SDP stages. They can provide guidance and support on applying the DSF and SDP in the local context.
- What is a “materiality analysis”?
The materiality analysis is an approach to identify critical economic, environmental and social issues, which may either reflect a significant impact on the company’s business performance or substantively influence the assessments and decisions of its stakeholders. The materiality analysis is a requirement of Stage 2 of the SDP and identifies the priority DSF Criteria to be addressed in subsequent stages.
Guidance on how to perform a materiality analysis can be available from the DSF, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and national dairy associations.
- What are the expectations around Foundational Elements?
Dairy processors ensure that they understand all the requirements related to the SDP Foundational Elements: Compliance with local legislation, Animal care and welfare, Human Rights and Deforestation.
Risks for potential non-compliance with the SDP foundational elements, must be identified and if applicable, policies must be developed and implemented to address and support alignment and conformity with the foundational elements. They are a unique requirement of the SDP and are not an aspect of the DSF.
- Where can I access the Sustainable Dairy Partnership’s tools and technical documents?
All materials are only available to SDP members or users through the SDP Learning Center.
- Does my SDP Report have to be verified?
Yes. Based on the SDP 5 stages matrix, processors need to externally verify the foundational elements and materiality analysis in order to complete stage 3.
- Who is eligible for external verification?
Only SDP members and users are eligible for external verification. Dairy buyers will only recognise SDP reports from registered members or users.
- Who can do the external verification?
Only approved verification bodies can carry out the external verification of the SDP.
James Sage – Technical Account Manager, Agriculture
Laure-Anne Mathieu – Global Food Audit Manager
Matt Armstrong – Manager, ESG & Sustainability Assurance
To become an SDP Approved Verifier, you can submit your application here. The verification body needs to demonstrate experience with external assurance systems and will have to understand the SDP framework before performing any verification activity. All activities must follow the SDP verification protocol.
For any question, please contact the SDP Helpdesk by emailing email@example.com.
- Is there an existing sustainability certification for dairy products that I can use?
The SDP provides a way to implement and report on the DSF criteria in the B2B environment. It recognises company and national standards to demonstrate continuous improvement. Specific certifications may be used to demonstrate fulfilment of certain requirements.
- Will the Sustainable Dairy Partnership have an on-product label?
No, the SDP was created for industry use and business to business relations. It is not a certification scheme.
By the end of 2020, we will develop a guidance document explaining all claims and company statements around the SDP.
- Where can I learn more about the Sustainable Dairy Partnership?
Wild Harvest Sustainability Assessment
- What is wild harvest?
Wild harvest collection can have a broad, diverse set of definitions, but in general refers to ingredients that are collected outside of conventionally managed agricultural products. The landscapes in which wild harvest occurs can vary widely, from ingredients collected at the edges of farmers’ fields and roadsides, to those collected in forests and meadows. Some examples include:
a) Berries gathered in government-owned eastern European forests
b) Licorice harvested from the edges of farmers’ fields
c) Apples grown by backyard growers
- What is the Wild Harvest Sustainability Assessment?
The Wild Harvest Sustainability Assessment from SAI Platform is a new assessment tool to identify risks to wild harvested ingredients and supply chains. Through a risk assessment and performance assessment that can be verified by an approved third party, wild harvest supply chains can understand their own risks and begin to make sustainability claims.
- What does sustainability mean to the Wild Harvest Sustainability Assessment?
Unlike conventional farming, wild harvesting operations are typically taking place in natural or seminatural environments and have minimal land management such as irrigation, land clearing, and the use of inputs (fertiliser and pesticide). Therefore, rather than creating improvements to the land, wild harvest focuses on ensuring best practices that minimise environmental risks and impacts to harvested species and the surrounding ecosystems and assuring that workers’ rights are understood and adhered to.
- How is the Wild Harvest Sustainability Assessment applied?
The Wild Harvest Sustainability Assessment is applicable to all land-based wild harvested ingredients. Collection points under the same wild harvest assessment must be harvesting ingredients that are managed and harvested in a similar way, all be located within the same country and must occur within the same type of environment (for example, an ingredient collected in a forest and also in an arid environment would need to undergo separate assessments).
- Who can use the Wild Harvest Sustainability Assessment?
The Wild Harvest Sustainability Assessment is available to any users upon request to SAI Platform. As a newly implemented system, we encourage users to provide feedback to SAI Platform on the user experience, as well as to comment on the usability of the tool.
- Is there a cost to implementing the Wild Harvest Sustainability Assessment?
Using the Wild Harvest Sustainability Assessment is free. However, in order to make verified claims, there is a cost for on-site audits as well as a cost to complete the desk-based risk assessment.
The Wild Harvest Sustainability and the FSA
- How is the Wild Harvest Sustainability Assessment similar to the Farm Sustainability Assessment (FSA)?
The Wild Harvest Sustainability Assessment borrows many of the same governance structures and approach from the FSA. This includes organising similarly managed ingredients and collection points (similar to a farm unit) within the same country under one collection group (similar to a Farm Management Group). Using the same sampling methodology, only a subset of collection points need to complete performance assessments (similar to the Self-Assessment Questionnaire from the FSA) and undergo verification audits. A Collection Group Coordinator (similar to a Farm Management Group Coordinator) ensures that a risk assessment for the collection group and performance assessments for the collection points are complete, and that collection points are prepared for audits.
- How is the Wild Harvest Sustainability Assessment different from the FSA?
Rather than a list of practices that are or are not implemented on the farm as is the case with the FSA, the Wild Harvest Sustainability Assessment instead takes a risk-based approach. There are a number of practices and features of a wild harvesting operation that can increase or decrease the risks to sustainability, such as level of knowledge/training by the collectors/collection points on biodiversity impacts to wild harvest, and transparency, clarity, and fairness of arrangements between collectors and collection points. Collection points self-assess their own level of risk associated with each question and must be able to demonstrate and justify this during the course of an on-site audit.
- How will the Wild Harvest Sustainability Assessment and the FSA work together?
The Wild Harvest Sustainability Assessment has been based on many of the same principles as the FSA. It focuses on increasing the quality of conversation within supply chains and governance of the system itself. Currently SAI Platform is undergoing a benchmark to ensure formalised equivalency with the FSA
system. As the Wild Harvest Sustainability Assessment continues to grow, SAI Platform will continue to explore ways in which we can create greater alignment between these systems. If you would like to join this discussion, please contact Leah Blechschmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org.