The SAN’s sustainable agriculture standard is represented by the ten guiding principles outlined below:
1. Management System
Social and environmental management systems (according to the complexity of the operation) must be in place so that auditors can confirm that farms are operated in compliance with the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) standard and the laws of the respective countries. Most farmers find that such a system not only improves conditions for workers and the environment, but also results in better-organized and more efficient farms.
2. Ecosystem Conservation
Farmers must conserve existing ecosystems and aid in the ecological restoration of critical areas. They can achieve this by taking steps that protect waterways and wetlands from erosion and contamination, prohibit logging and other deforestation, maintain vegetation barriers and prevent negative impacts on natural areas outside farmlands.
3. Wildlife Protection
Certified farms serve as refuge for wildlife, and therefore farmers should monitor wildlife species on farms. This is particularly important for endangered species and their habitats on the land, which farmers should take specific steps to protect. This includes educating workers, prohibiting hunting and the removal of plants and animals from their lands, protecting nesting places, and either releasing captive wildlife or registering animals with the proper authorities.
4. Water Conservation
The SAN standard requires that farmers conserve water by keeping track of water sources and consumption. A farm’s practices and machinery may need to be modified — or new technology installed — in order to reduce water consumption or to avoid contamination of springs and rivers on and near the property. Farmers should have the proper permits for water use, treat wastewater and monitor water quality.
5. Working Conditions
Farmers must ensure good working conditions for all employees, as defined by such international bodies as the United Nations and the International Labour Organization. The SAN standards prohibit forced and child labor and all forms of discrimination and abuse. Workers should be aware of their rights and of farm policies. They should benefit from legally established salaries, work schedules and any benefits required by the national government. If housing is provided, it must be in good condition, with potable water, sanitary facilities and waste collection. Workers and their families should have access to healthcare and education. Read more about the SAN standards and relevant International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions.
6. Occupational Health
Certified farms must have occupational health and safety programs to reduce the risk of accidents. This requires that workers receive safety training — especially regarding the use of agrochemicals — and that farmers provide the necessary protective gear and ensure that farm infrastructure, machinery and other equipment is in good condition and poses no danger to human health. The SAN standard contains extensive criteria for establishing a safe work environment. This includes avoiding the potentially harmful effects of agrochemicals on workers and others, identifying and mitigating health risks and preparing for emergencies.
7. Community Relations
The SAN standard requires farmers to be good neighbors and inform surrounding communities and local interest groups about their activities and plans. They should consult with interested parties about the potential impacts of their farm and contribute to local development through employment, training and public works.
8. Integrated Crop Management
The SAN encourages the elimination of chemical products that pose dangers to people and the environment. Farm managers must monitor pests and use biological or mechanical alternatives to pesticides where possible — and if they determine that agrochemicals are necessary to protect the crop, they are obligated to choose the safest products available and use every possible safeguard to protect human health and the environment.
9. Soil Conservation
A goal of SAN’s sustainable agriculture approach is the long-term improvement of soils, which is why certified farms take steps to prevent erosion, base fertilization on crop requirements and soil characteristics and use organic matter to enrich soil. Vegetative ground cover and mechanical weeding are used to reduce agrochemical use whenever possible.
10. Integrated Waste Management
Certified farms are clean and orderly with programs for managing waste through recycling, reducing consumption and reuse. Waste is segregated, treated and disposed of in ways that minimize environmental and health impacts. Workers are educated about properly managing waste on the farms and in their communities.