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The Audit Trail
The fundamental role of our team of trained auditors is to assess whether a certified operation is compliant with AGW’s standards.
After visiting your business, the auditor will submit a detailed audit report to AGW’s compliance team, identifying any issues that may have arisen on the day of their visit. These are known as a non-compliance or a critical non-compliance. The compliance team will then review the audit report for accuracy and completeness, before sending a Compliance Report back to you, explaining any action(s) required on your part to comply with the standards.
It is very important to understand that NCs and CNCs are actually quite common. In fact, it is quite rare for a farming operation not to receive at least one after their first audit.
If you received a non-compliance (NC) or critical non-compliance (CNC) during your audit, your auditor should have discussed the specific issues with you at the end of your audit. It does not mean we think your operation is “bad” or poorly managed. It simply means your operation does not (yet) fully comply with the AGW standards, and you will need to address the specific issues before we can certify (or re-certify) your operation.
After the audit, we will send your Compliance Report via email in a spreadsheet format, with various sections (navigable by the tabs at the bottom). If you received any NCs or CNCs, you need to provide a clear description of the corrective action that you intend to take to resolve the problem, as well as a realistic estimated date of completion before you send the form back to us.
The Compliance Report form includes the minimum information you will need to supply in order to resolve the specific issue(s) identified.
Time is money
Failure to supply sufficient or detailed information when returning a compliance report is the number one reason for prolonged, time-consuming, back-and-forth communication between operations and the program, as well as lengthy delays in approving applications and issuing you with your well-deserved certificate—something we all want to avoid.
To save us all time and money, it is important to make sure you have provided detailed, specific information about the corrective action(s) you will take to address any NCs or CNCs you have received—along with a deadline that is fair and realistic for the issue(s) identified—before you return your Compliance Report.
Stay in touch
It sounds obvious, but you can significantly reduce the likelihood of receiving any future NCs or CNCs by contacting us well in advance of your audit to ask any questions you may have about the AGW’s standards and how they might apply to your farm or ranch, as well as for guidance on possible ways to address existing NCs. We’re here to help.
We also appreciate that life can throw up unexpected challenges and that our plans go off track, or urgent tasks must take priority. If, for any reason, you can no longer meet the estimated date of completion in your Compliance Report, please get in touch as soon as possible so we can consider an extension.
Please don’t leave it until the day of your audit to explain why you haven’t taken any required action. If the issues raised in your Compliance Report have not been addressed at your re-audit, and you haven’t been in touch to explain why, you are at risk of being suspended from the program—or even having your certification terminated in very serious cases. That’s something we really do all want to avoid.
If you have any questions on the compliance process at any time, please get in touch and we’ll do our best help. Thank you for your cooperation and participation in the programs offered by AGW, which enable your efforts and excellent farming practice to be recognized.
Author: Tim Holmes is Director of Compliance at A Greener World
Originally published in the Spring 2023 issue of AGW’s Sustainable Farming magazine.