With the publication of our 2020 Certification Program, we have reached one of our key milestones in our journey towards reimagining certification. The program’s publication is followed by a carefully planned roll-out phase to help all stakeholders learn about the new standard and systems.
The 2020 Sustainable Agricultural Standard consists of two components:
- Farm Requirements: previously called the Farm Standard
- Supply Chain Requirements: previously called the Chain of Custody standard.
Both sets of requirements come into effect beginning July 1, 2021.
- July 2020: Publication of the 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard and Assurance Rules
- July 2020: Entry into force of the Transition Rules
- July 2020: Register for one of our Introduction to the Rainforest Alliance 2020 Certification Program webinars:
- August 2020: Publication of a transitions webtool to provide step-by-step guidance for certificate holders to transition between the current programs and the 2020 Certification Program
- September 2020: Translations of Sustainable Agriculture Standard, Assurance documents, and Annexes published
- November 2020: External training starts
- January 2021: Registration in our certification platform opens
- April 2021: Publication of authorized Certification Bodies
- July 2021: The 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard requirements come into effect
- July 2021: Auditing can start against the transition period version of our new 2020 Certification Program
- July 2022: Auditing can start against the full requirements of the new 2020 Certification Program
COVID-19 and program timelines
The Rainforest Alliance is acutely aware of the strain that the COVID-19 pandemic has put on certified producers and supply chains. To ensure that the transition to our 2020 certification program does not further add to this pressure, we will phase in the implementation of the new standard requirements.
Key dates for certificate holders at the farm level
Beginning July 2021, certificate holders at the farm level will only be required to comply with the core requirements of the 2020 Sustainable Agriculture Standard. Following successful audits, certificate holders will receive a transition certificate that is valid for one year. This will give more time to implement the full set of 2020 standard requirements. After July 1, 2022, in their first full-scale certification audit, certificate holders at the farm level will be audited against the full set of applicable farm requirements. This will mark the beginning of the full-scale, three-year certification cycle, which requires annual surveillance audits.
This phased approach is designed to make the transition to the new program less complex, more manageable, and more cost-effective for certificate holders at a farm level.
Key dates for certificate holders at the supply chain level
Beginning July 2021, certificate holders at the supply chain level will be audited against the full scope of the Supply Chain Requirements. They will receive a desk audit to verify their base level of compliance with the new Supply Chain Requirements. On successful completion of the desk audit, they will receive a transition certificate that is valid for one year. Some Certificate Holders at supply chain level may be eligible for an endorsement, which means they do not need to receive an audit. They can then apply to the Rainforest Alliance for an endorsement to receive their Transition Certificate.
Beginning July 1, 2022, certificate holders at the supply chain level can begin the three-year certification cycle. When they register for the Rainforest Alliance 2020 Certification Program, supply chain certificate holders will complete a risk assessment that will be used to determine whether they require an onsite audit, a desk audit, or can apply for an endorsement (depending on their risk level). Following successful verification through one of these processes, they will receive a certificate that is valid for three years. The level of annual verification required during the three-year cycle will depend on their results identified during the risk assessment process.
The Transition Rules are intended to support certificate holders through a smooth and orderly transition to the Rainforest Alliance 2020 Certification Program by providing clarity as to:
- Which certification program and standard applies to a certificate holder at any point of the transition period
- The rules governing the certification process during the transition period, including:
- Transition Period Audits
- Transition Period Endorsements
- Transition Certificates
- The validity of volumes and certificates from the current UTZ and Rainforest Alliance programs that are being phased out
- The rules applicable to a certificate holder that is unable to transition during the transition period
- The rules applicable specifically to Certification Bodies during the transition period
Frequently Asked Questions about transitioning to the Rainforest Alliance 2020 Certification Program.