Alternative certification programme for sustainable soy
The US Soybean Export Council (USSEC) has launched a certification programme for sustainable soy. This initiative should become an alternative to Round Table for Responsible Soy (RTRS).
The initiative, called SSAP, is not new as it has been existing as a programme since 1985. New is the element of certification, representatives of the soy industry explained this week during a meeting with trade and feed companies in The Hague, the Netherlands.
Main reason for the new certification progamme is the fact that many US arable farmers have found the RTRS system to be both expensive and complicated. In addition, US farmers have to comply with the SSAP anyway in order to be eligible for subsidies or the federal loan programme. About 95% of US arable farmers does comply.
Jim Sutter, CEO for the USSEC emphasised the United States' long standing preference for sustainable production. He stated that several criteria had been developed for countries with unclear land rights or illegal cutting of rain forest. The US, he continued, is a modern country and soybean farmers are known to comply with stringent legislation, just like in Europe. Sutter also pointed to the fact that rain forest does not exist in the US.
An analysis of Prof Marty Matlock, University of Arkansas, affiliated to neither RTRS or SSAP, said that the SSAP programme includes 84 out of 98 components of the RTRS. The 14 leftovers do not make a strong difference, Matlock said.
The SSAP would not create additional costs for either producers or consumers. Instead of annual audits, the SSAP programme would include random audits at 5% of the soybean producers.
In Brazil and Argentina, the RTRS system is growing in importance.
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