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Certified Veganic - U.S.

Participatory guarantee system

Update: Please note that the Certified Veganic program is currently on hold. During its first five years of activity, there were few farms that joined the program, and those who were running it decided to suspend the certification program for the moment. Certified Veganic was started by the same folks who started Certified Naturally Grown, which is a participatory guarantee system open to farms following organic standards, whether plant-based or not. For the moment, veganic farms who are interested in certification can consider becoming Certified Naturally Grown, and indicating on their application that they grow veganically in the "other things we should know" section of the application. If it becomes clear that there is a higher number of veganic farms seeking certification, the separate Certified Veganic program may again be launched.

Certified Veganic is a certification program for plant-based farmers in North America. The standards are modeled significantly after the Stockfree-Organic certification that was developed in the U.K.

Certified Veganic is based on a participatory guarantee system (PGS), which involves the farmers and consumers in the process of developing and administering the certification. PGS has been used around the world to offer low-cost, regional certifications for small organic farms, with an emphasis on knowledge-building for the farmer. With PGS, the farmer’s signed agreement is publicly disclosed to ensure a greater level of public involvement, farmer commitment, and overall transparency.

Below is the first edition of the Certified Veganic program. It includes an introduction to the certification, the goals of the Certified Veganic program, and the standards and principles. While the Certified Veganic program is not running at the moment, we’ve left the information here for anyone who would like to pursue veganic certification in the future, and as guidelines for farms who market themselves as veganic to their customers.

For farms in North America, 3rd party Stockfree is another option for plant-based certification.

Veganic Farming Standards

Veganic farming is a step well beyond organic farming. Like Organic farmers, Veganic farmers use no synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides or herbicides or Genetically modified ingredients. But in addition, Veganic farmers do not use any manures or slaughterhouse byproducts and are prohibited from using even organically approved broad-spectrum pesticides. Instead of the purchased manures and manure-based composts used on organic farms, Veganic farmers must rely on careful crop rotations and green manuring to provide long-term fertility for food crop production. Veganic farmers may also buy in rock powders, hay mulches and high nitrogen soybean or alfalfa meals as short-term fertility sources, but veganic farmers must be able to demonstrate a long term plan of sustainable production minimizing the use of off-farm inputs.

For farmers that have been farming organically without the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers for a period of 36 months from harvest, there is no transition period to be considered "Certified Veganic". Farmers that have used synthetic chemical fertilizers/pesticides/herbicides less than 36 months before harvest can still register as "Certified Veganic TRANSITIONAL".

Goals of the Certified Veganic Program

(1) Break the bonds between organic and factory farms

The primary source of nutrients on most Certified Organic farms comes from factory farmed animal wastes - blood, bone, feathers and the pelletized feces of animals kept under inhumane conditions. Factory farms profit when Organic farmers pay to remove these wastes, making factory farms more financially sustainable and literally subsidizing the production of cheap meats. The first goal of Certified Veganic agriculture is to provide a labeling system for organic farmers who are willing to completely sever the tight bond that currently exists between inhumane factory farms and organically grown produce.

(2) Care for soil and water resources and minimize agricultural impact on wildlife and biodiversity.

(3) Demonstrate a truly sustainable system of food production

The use of manure even from humanely raised animals is prohibited on Certified Veganic farms. The gathering, transporting and spreading of animal waste as a fertility source for the growing of vegetables is fundamentally unsustainable and only continues because of the cheap availability of fossil fuels and the huge appetite for animal products in the general population.

Veganic farmers may grow the same forage crops that livestock farmers grow, but instead of feeding them to the cow or horse, then gathering them up and spreading them back on the field, they let the soil microorganisms digest the plant residues right there in place - providing nutrients for vegetable crops that will grow the next year. By cutting out the "middle man" (in this case the cow or horse) veganic farmers return a larger amount of organic matter back to the land than the farmer who first fed those same forage crops to the cow. Veganic production methods use much less land to produce much more people food - and they do more to increase the long term viability of that land to produce food crops for people.

Standards and Practices

To be Certified Veganic, the farm must follow all USDA organic and Certified Naturally Grown standards and practices (see for more details) and IN ADDITION must meet the following Veganic Standards and Practices

(1) Animals on the Farm

No animals are kept for food production or any other commercial purposes. This does not include companion animals (cats and dogs for example) or "Rescued" animals (even if they are farm animals).

(2) Fertility Sources

Providing nutrients on a veganic farm is more complicated (but not necessarily more difficult or expensive) than on a farm that can truck in manure or use synthetic chemical fertilizers.

Certified Veganic farmers have a clear knowledge and record of exactly what percentage of their fertility management comes from bought and brought in sources (including soybean meal, alfalfa meal, rock powders, wood chips and bought in hay mulches) and how much comes from the farm itself (through cover cropping, green manures, undersowing, companion planting and careful rotations). The veganic farmer must show an annual increase in the ratio of on-farm to purchased fertility management until 90% of the fertility comes from on-farm sources.

No manure or products of animal or fish origin (including but not limited to blood meal, bone meal, feather meal and fish emulsion) can be used as nutrient sources at any time or for any reason on the Veganic farm, including manures from animals not raised for food (for example horses). Wild harvested bat and seabird guanos are allowed only in greenhouse production.

(3) Pest and Disease Control

Veganic farms minimize and work to ultimately eliminate the use of even organically approved pesticides with crop rotations and diversification. Even organically approved pesticides that are classified as "broad-spectrum" pesticides and therefore harm beneficial organisms are prohibited on the Veganic Farm after the first year of certification. Those pesticides are the following: Pyrethrins and rotenone, tobacco and biocides based on animal derivatives.

(4) Competing Birds and Larger Mammals

Shooting, poisoning and trapping to kill competing wildlife (including deer, birds, woodchucks) is prohibited. The use of fencing and Electric fencing, netting, wire mesh, sonic repellents, raptor models, scare balloons and scare tape or other sorts of "scarecrow" devices is encouraged. To discourage the need for control of small rodents, inspections include demonstration that steps have been taken to eliminate rodent problems in food storage areas including wire mesh, sealed coolers and food storage areas or sealed food containers, and minimizing small rodent habitats from around barns and food storage areas (for example elimination of woodpiles, boxes, trash piles. Also maintaining mown areas around food distribution areas if it’s reasonably possible on that site). Absolutely no killing for sport is allowed on Certified Veganic farms.

(5) Wildlife Diversity and Environmental Conservation

The production of food crops for human consumption is a necessary "unnatural" act that displaces wildlife. Certified Veganic farms seek to minimize that impact by taking the following steps.

(a) Follow all legal environmental requirements

(b) Consult environmental authorities for "best practice advice" (for example USDA NRCS and state level Environmental Conservation Depts) before taking steps that will obviously impact the environment.

(c) Leave undisturbed field margins around the outside of fields for wildlife conservation

(d) Maintaining existing hedges, ditches, treelines and leaving stone walls that act as wildlife habitat and corridors.

(e) Planting attractant species for beneficial insects and birds

(f) Planting or encouraging "native" plant species

(g) Installation of bird and bat boxes and winter feeding stations for birds

(h) Avoiding the disturbance of ground nesting birds when cultivating and mowing

(i) Mowing from the center of the field outwards so that birds and mammals can escape to the outside

(h) Timing mowing operations in field-areas to allow grasses and wildflowers to set seed

(i) Protecting waterways with buffers and active planting of trees and shrubs to minimize erosion

(j) Maintaining unfenced wildlife corridors (for example not fencing from the road all the way down to a waterway... there should be space left at the waterway so wildlife can move through without having to go up to the road).

(k) No new drainage in areas with significant conservation value

(l) siting of new agricultural buildings should take into account environmental and aesthetic impacts

(6) Special Record Keeping Requirements on Certified Veganic Farms

Because the level of planning and care in rotations and cover cropping on Veganic holdings is at a much higher level than with organic to be certified, Veganic farmers have an extra level of record keeping to demonstrate they are working towards a self-sustaining operation.

Besides the online (or written) application that Veganic farmers received and the inspection forms, Veganic farmers must send in the following:

(a) Map of the farm with production fields clearly labeled or numbered

(b) Accompanying 3 years forward green manure schedule with what green manures were used last year, are planned for this year, and are planned for the following 2 years. (We are NOT asking for records on what vegetable crops were grown where, only what cover crops).

(c) List of brought and bought in fertility sources and an estimate of the percentage of fertility that is coming from on farm sources (home grown mulching, cover cropped or inter-planted green manures) and what is coming from bought in sources (rock powders, soybean meal, alfalfa meal, hay mulches, etc.) broken down by N, P, K. A realistic plan for minimizing the use of bought and brought in inputs over the long run should be apparent.

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