Top Tips for a Terrific Inspection

Posted on April 05, 2017

Screen_Shot_2017-04-04_at_10.45.09_AM.pngPhoto from Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Ajo, Arizona, showing their inspection with Frank Martin of Crooked Sky Farms.

Peer reviews are a pillar of our certification programs. They help ensure CNG production standards are being met, while at the same time they strengthen local farming networks and create learning opportunities. 

Here are some important tips to keep in mind when participating in CNG’s inspection requirement:

Use the Searchable Map

You can easily find members near you by entering your zip code and a search radius under the searchable CNG map here. If you’re logged in to your Certification Account (see the navy blue band across the very top of the page) then you’re likely to see some icons of orange notebooks on the right side of some farms’ listing. Those indicate that the farmer is due to complete their “work requirement” that they conduct an inspection of another CNG farm. Contact them first!

Don’t Trade Inspections

To avoid conflicts of interest, there is no trading inspections. If you conducted an inspection for farmer Jones then Jones can’t then turn around and inspect your farm - neither in the same year nor the subsequent year.

No Repeat Inspectors

You may not repeatedly rely on the same inspector when other CNG farmers are nearby. Doing so risks compromising the integrity of the program and fails to provide diverse perspectives.

Complete the Report, Completely

Please be sure the Inspection Report is complete before returning it. In particular:
 - Is it signed by both the CNG producer and the inspector?
 - What is the inspector’s affiliation?
 - How long did it take to complete the inspection?  
We want to know! Please don’t leave these sections blank.

blue_markup.jpgAn exemplary inspection report, with all elements completed.

Tap Alternative Inspectors

If there are no CNG producers of a similar type within an hour’s drive, that’s fine! There are alternatives to using a CNG member, and these options are all listed in our Guidelines. For example, you may rely on a non-certified producer using natural practices, a county extension agent, agricultural educators, or a certified organic farmer. 

Find a Similar Type of Producer

Be sure not to rely on someone who isn’t familiar with your type of operation. For example, a beekeeper or livestock producer who doesn’t grow produce for market should only be tapped to inspect a livestock or apiary operation. They shouldn’t be asked to inspect your produce operation just because they’re the only CNG member nearby. 

Ask for Help if You’re a Mushroom or Aquaponics Producer

For these folks, it can be especially challenging to find producers of a similar type nearby to conduct their inspection. Ask CNG staff to help you! Often we can tap our networks to find the right inspector. Please do not rely on a soil-based farmer to do your inspection unless you clear it first with CNG staff.

Meet the Work Requirement  

Our peer-approach only works if everyone follows through on the work requirement they agreed to when first applying to be CNG certified. Members can be delisted from the CNG program if they refuse to conduct an inspection of another CNG farmer and they haven’t fulfilled this annual requirement. (This requirement is waived if you’re not within an hour’s drive from another CNG producer of a similar type.)

Photo from Jennings Apiary in Bernice, Louisiana.

Be Proud to be Part of a PGS!

Our certification model is based on the principles of Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS), where local knowledge is prioritized. PGS are promoted by The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) which is the worldwide umbrella organization for the organic agriculture movement representing close to 800 affiliates, including CNG, in 117 countries.