Frequently Asked Questions
1. What do GLOBALG.A.P. Standards focus on?
The Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) Standard provides a holistic approach to producing crops, livestock and aquaculture, that covers food safety, traceability, environmental sustainability, worker health and safety, and animal welfare (where applicable).
For those producers that wish to focus only on food safety for fruits and vegetables, GLOBALG.A.P. North America offers the Produce Safety Standard (PSS). PSS certification offers producers an upgrade path to full IFA certification.
A Primary Farm Assurance (PFA) assessment is a good option for producers just beginning to address Good Agricultural Practice on their farm. PFA covers fundamental food safety for fruit and vegetables, and is designed as a step-wise improvement plan supported and accepted by a number of North American retailers to help producers ultimately reach full IFA certification.
2. Is GLOBALG.A.P. expensive?
Producer registration fees for GLOBALG.A.P. Certification are low. See the Producer Fee Table for details. Actual audit costs are established by certification bodies who conduct the third party independent audits.
These audit costs will vary depending on:
- How prepared you are for the audit
- Amount of time/travel expended by the auditor
- Quantity of corrective actions requiring follow-up by the auditor
- Other services provided by the certification body
Cost savings may be achieved through:
- Well-organized documentation
- Embracing a culture of safety throughout your farming operation
- Aligning with other producers in an Option 2 Producer Group or an Option 1 Multi-Site Producer with a Quality Management System (QMS)
- Working with a GLOBALG.A.P. Farm Assurer before your audit
3. Will U.S. retailers accept GLOBALG.A.P. Standards as a food safety scheme under their requirements?
U.S. retailers and foodservice providers are increasingly looking to GLOBALG.A.P. certified producers to supply them with food products that are safe from chemical, biological and physical risks. In addition, our IFA Version 4 and PSS Standards have been submitted to GFSI for recognition and are currently in the benchmarking process.
4. If a farm does not meet expectations, is it eligible for a re-audit?
For first-time certification applicants, an audit can be repeated several times to prove the effectiveness of the corrective actions proposed to close the non-conformities raised.
After an annual surveillance audit of an already GLOBALG.A.P. certified producer, the producer has 28 days to fix any non-conformances detected (except those non-conformances that require immediate attention to prevent a food safety threat to consumers). Certification will be renewed when the producer shows compliance again.
If there is a grave food safety risk on the farm, the auditor has the option to immediately terminate the audit. You and your certification body can then work together to reschedule the audit: (a) after the situation has been remedied, and (b) when the pending control points can be audited.
5. What kind of experience and training do the auditors have?
GLOBALG.A.P. works with more than 128 accredited certification bodies around the world that in turn employ more than 1,350 registered GLOBALG.A.P. inspectors and auditors. Every auditor must meet the following minimum qualifications before they can audit GLOBALG.A.P. Standards:
- a) Formal training and education
- b) Work experience in the products they are auditing
- c) Audit experience
- d) Competency as an auditor
- e) Standard-specific training
- f) On-going annual auditor training
You have a choice in which certification body you contract with and the opportunity to ensure that your auditor is sufficiently knowledgeable in the agricultural products you produce.
6. Is GLOBALG.A.P. useful even if you do not export outside of the U.S.?
Yes, major retailers in the United States have included GLOBALG.A.P. in their list of preferred audit standards for all of their produce suppliers.
7. How long is the auditing process?
The minimum inspection time for a GLOBALG.A.P. audit is 3 hours. This includes a review of documentation and on-farm practices.
Additional time needed for each audit is a function of the number of locations, number of crops, complexity and quantity of machinery, number of workers, if aspects of the business beyond production are involved in the audit process, extent to which documentation is well organized, and number of subsequent inspections that may need to take place because of corrective actions.
8. How long does it take to obtain certification?
If you are already implementing GLOBALG.A.P. Standards on your farm, then the registration, auditing, and certification process may be as short as your availability/schedule and that of the certification body allow.
The whole process can even be completed in less than a week, as the certification body can issue the certificate on the day following the audit if no non-conformities are detected.
9. Who is involved in a GLOBALG.A.P. audit and what are their respective roles?
a) Accreditation Bodies:
- Sign a Memorandum of Understanding with GLOBALG.A.P.
- Evaluate the competence of the certification bodies to audit GLOBALG.A.P. Standards based on ISO 65.
- GLOBALG.A.P. is a private sector body that develops and maintains standards for food safety, traceability, environmental sustainability, worker health and safety, and animal welfare (where applicable) practices for crops, livestock, aquaculture and other products.
c) Certification Bodies:
- Third-party independent auditing companies that are approved and licensed by GLOBALG.A.P. North America to issue GLOBALG.A.P. Certificates.
- They must be ISO 65 accredited for the Scopes of GLOBALG.A.P. in order to obtain full GLOBALG.A.P. approval.
d) Farm Assurers (Optional):
- Packers, consultants, associations, etc. who sign up with GLOBALG.A.P.'s Farm Assurer Program to aid farmers who need advisory and logistic support to achieve farm certification.
10. How do Option 1 and Option 2 compare?
Please see our Option 1 and Option 2 page for details.
11. How do I know which trainings are currently scheduled?
Please see our Training for current trainings.
12. What is the License Agreement?
13. What is the Sublicense and Certification Agreement?
The Sublicense and Certification Agreement is a contract between a certification body and a producer (contracting party). GLOBALG.A.P. North America provides this document to ensure a standardized relationship between certification bodies and producers worldwide. This contract is signed after the License Agreement has been signed.
14. What is the Farm Assurer License Agreement?
The Farm Assurer License Agreement is a contract between the Farm Assurer and GLOBALG.A.P. North America, which places appropriate guidelines and regulations concerning the Farm Assurer's role in supporting farms through the certification process.
15. How does the Integrity Program work?
To ensure a high and consistent level of certification body performance, GLOBALG.A.P.:
- Witnesses how certification bodies perform producer inspections
- Monitors the exchanges of information between certification bodies and accreditation bodies
- Audits the certification body head office and local branches
- Conducts unannounced audits of certified producers to benchmark certification body performance
- Conducts bilateral reviews with benchmarked scheme owners
See our Integrity Program page for more details.
16. What is a GGN?
The GGN, or GLOBALG.A.P. Number, is a 13-digit number used to identify each certified producer or producer group in the GLOBALG.A.P. Certification Database. In cases in which a producer has purchased a Global Location Number (GLN) from GS1, the GLN will take the place of the GGN.
17. What is the difference between an audit and an inspection?
An audit is GLOBALG.A.P.'s term for the certification body's review of a producer's or producer group's internal QMS system. An inspection is GLOBALG.A.P.'s term for the certification body's review of a production site.
18. What is the difference between an auditor and an inspector?
Auditors may conduct inspections and are also able to audit the Quality Management System (QMS) systems of IFA Option 1 Multi-Site Producers and Option 2 Producer Groups. Auditors must meet additional GLOBALG.A.P. requirements to demonstrate their knowledge of QMS, including an additional face-to-face training for IFA Version 4. Inspectors can conduct inspections of Option 1 producers as well as the sample inspections of Option 2 producers.
19. What is GRASP?
GRASP, the GLOBALG.A.P. Risk Assessment on Social Practice, is a voluntary module of 11 control points and compliance criteria. The GRASP toolkit helps raise the awareness of social issues in agriculture and provides practical guidance on what a producer can do to promote good social practices in their operations. For more information, please see our GRASP page.
20. What are the components of the GLOBALG.A.P. IFA Standard for Fruits and Vegetables?
a) General Regulations
The rules and regulations that govern the GLOBALG.A.P. farm certification process:
- Introduction and Specific Rules
- Part I - General rules of the GLOBALG.A.P. system
- Part II - Rules that specifically apply to Option 2 Producer Groups and Option 1 Multi-Site Producers with a Quality Management System (QMS)
- Part III - Rules that specifically apply for certification bodies and accreditation bodies
b) All Farm Base (AB)
Farm-wide control points that apply to all GLOBALG.A.P. operations (note the risk assessments in the Appendices)
c) Crops Base (CB)
Control points that apply to any GLOBALG.A.P. operation producing crops (i.e. fruits and vegetable, row crops, flowers, etc.)
d) Fruit and Vegetables (FV)
Control points that apply to GLOBALG.A.P. fruit and vegetable producers
21. Do the auditors and inspectors use a different checklist from the one I use?
No, the certification body inspects the production facility with the same checklists available to the producer for free via our Website.
22. What is a Control Point?
Control points are the actual checkpoints used on GLOBALG.A.P. inspections. For example: "Is a reference system for each field, orchard, greenhouse, yard, plot, livestock building/pen, and/or other area/location used in production established and referenced on a farm plan or map?"
23. What is the Compliance Criteria?
The compliance criteria is the corresponding documents or action steps necessary to present to auditors in order to pass the control point. For example: "Compliance must include visual identification in the form of a physical sign at each field/orchard, greenhouse/yard/plot/livestock building/pen or other farm area/location, or a farm plan or map that could be cross-referenced to the identification system. No N/A."
24. What is the significance of Major Musts, Minor Musts, and Recommendations?
A Major Must is a mandatory control point. Failure to meet a Major Must control point will result in a non-conformance. Until the non-conformance is remedied, the producer will not be able to pass the audit.
Producers must also meet 95% of the Minor Musts in order to pass the audit. Recommended control points are not mandatory; however, they often transition to Minor Musts in subsequent revisions of the Standard.
25. Who has access to my audit/inspection report?
Your certification body will conduct an assessment and issue a certificate when there are no outstanding non-conformances. The certification body uploads the assessment report to the GLOBALG.A.P. Database, where only users chosen by you can see the report. Through the GLOBALG.A.P. Database online reporting, retailers and suppliers can monitor your implementation and progress.
26. What happens if I do not pass on the day of the audit?
Outstanding non-conformances within a surveillance audit of a valid certificate shall be closed within 28 days. If the cause of the warning is not resolved within this period, the producer's certificate is suspended.
If the non-conformance is against a Major Must, the Certification Body will decide on a length of time, no longer than 28 days, that the producer has to make corrective action. The length of this period will depend on the impact the non-conformance has on the safety of the environment and consumers.
27. What is a PMU?
A Production Management Unit (PMU) is a unit of production, i.e. a farm, field, pond, orchard, herd, greenhouse, etc. where provisions are in place to keep separate records and prevent mixing of outputs. A PMU is in parallel production when some of a producer's products are GLOBALG.A.P. certified and some are not.
28. How can members participate in GLOBALG.A.P.?
GLOBALG.A.P. members can contribute to the governance of GLOBALG.A.P. by participating on Stakeholder and Technical Committees. Stakeholder Committees, such as Microbiology and Water Use, play a key role in standard-setting and decision-making. Each committee must be made up of at least 5 members, including at least 2 producers and at least 2 retailers, to ensure the variety and balance of opinions.
29. How is the GLOBALG.A.P. Board elected?
The Board is elected by GLOBALG.A.P. members every 4 years and sits atop the GLOBALG.A.P. organizational structure. The Board is made up of 50% producers/suppliers and 50% retailers/foodservice representatives.
30. If a Produce Handling Unit (PHU) handles products from multiple growers who are all GLOBALG.A.P. certified, which GGN should go on the box label?
We suggest putting both the grower and PHU GGN on the box as these operations are so interconnected.
31. A producer has an assortment of certified and non-certified products going to the same customer on the same truck. Where should they put the GGN on the Bill of Loading so as to avoid the assumption that the entire truckload is GLOBALG.A.P. certified?
The GGN should go next to the product listing.
32. If a grower chooses to do the document review portion of the audit now, and the remaining harvest Control Points at the time of harvest, how long do they have to conduct corrective actions?
For the first inspection, there shall be no longer than three months between the first document inspections and the certificate issuance. For growers with a valid certificate, they have a 28 day timeframe to close out/solve all corrective actions.
33. A grower produces tomatoes and celery on the same farm. Are these products sufficiently alike to have one harvest audit, or will the auditor need to see each crop during its respective harvest period?
It depends on the harvest operation, namely hygiene requirements, handling and washing. If tomatoes and celery undergo the same key process and the matrix used for tomatoes applies to celery, it is okay to have just one harvest audit.
34. For a cherry, pear, and apple producer doing a first-time certification, does the producer need audits during the harvest of each crop to be certified?
If producers audit the entire farm during cherry harvest, producers will be able to certify cherries only. However, if producers have an additional audit during apple and pear harvest within the same certification cycle, they will only have to audit CPCCs specific to the apple and pear harvest. They will be able to add apples and pears to the certificate. Note: for subsequent certification cycles, it is not mandatory to audit during harvest.