New sustainable soybean verification delivers on buyer demands


Soy Canada has responded to requests by importers of Canadian soybeans and launched its Sustainable Canadian Soy verification program.

Brian Innes, executive director of Soy Canada, says the voluntary program has been two-years in the making. “What we heard consistently is that some customers, particularly in Japan, and Europe, are asking for a verified supply of sustainable soybeans,” he says.

Because Canada competes with South America and the U.S. for these same customers, Innes says the industry recognized it needed to work together and come up with a system that can meet the market need and create opportunities for Canadian farmers.

Though largely focused on the identity-preserved food-grade market, Innes says the program was developed with input from bulk handlers, consumer processed goods companies, as well as processors serving a domestic North American market. A number of these value chain players already have a farm sustainability assessment type program somewhere in their supply chain, he says, so that’s not to say the program won’t be used outside the IP market. (more below)

From a growers perspective, participating involves working directly with their buyer of soybeans. Innes says that seven companies, in Eastern and Western Canada, have been working with Soy Canada within the sustainability working group. These companies have been engaging with farmers who may be interested in the program and signing up those farmers who are interested.

Many farms already meet many of the requirements spelled out in the program, based on the Farm Sustainability Assessment model. Participating means going through a self-assessment model, and then also having verification done on those self assessments.

Innes says the self-assessment process take less than an hour and really helps farmers go through all the aspects of economic sustainability, social sustainability, as well as environmental sustainability on their farm. Once done, farmers are able to assess how they score against other farmers in Canada as well as elsewhere in the world.

It’s the grain handler or exporter that coordinates any verification that may need to occur, Innes says,  and a small number of farmers will need to be verified every year. That process will can take two to four hours.

This program is benchmarked to the U.S. Sustainable Soy model and the Roundtable for Responsible Soy in South America, so Innes is confident this program will show Canadian customers that we’re equivalent or better than other sources of soybeans.

Related: Consultations underway on “Code 2.0”  for Canadian grain 

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