Remote Inspections Policy

Generally speaking in-person inspections are preferred, and in some cases required. But at times the Remote Observed Inspection (ROI) is the best option, so long as both parties adhere to this policy and also follow the guidance provided on our Remote Inspection Checklists.

Remote Observed Inspections are coordinated with CNG staff and carried out via video calls where the inspector is at home on their computer and the farmer being inspected uses their cell phone, so they can show the inspector around the farm. It's therefore essential that the farmer receiving the ROI has adequate cell service in their growing area in order to provide the video tour.

Remote inspections may be conducted in the following circumstances. 

These farms are automatically eligible to be inspected remotely (receive an ROI):

  • Returning members who
    • have been with CNG for at least two years, and
    • have been inspected by at least two different people on two different occasions, and
    • have strong enough internet connection to provide a video tour, and
    • rely on an inspector who is eligible to conduct an inspection as defined below.

*Produce farms can only be inspected remotely during their growing season.*

These farms are automatically eligible to conduct remote inspections:

  • CNG members in good standing who
    • have conducted at least two in-person inspections of at least two different farms, and
    • who are familiar with the type of operation to be inspected remotely, (ie, just as with in-person inspections, produce growers inspect produce growers, beekeepers inspect beekeepers, livestock inspects livestock, etc.)
  • Senior Remote Inspectors ~ Priority given to members whose last inspection occurred at least 14 months ago.

If possible, we recommend you look to identify a remote inspector who also meets these criteria:

  • Has been CNG certified since 2016 or earlier, and
  • Has conducted at least three inspections, and
  • Is not nearby, since your next in-person inspection should be done by a different inspector, and someone within an hour's drive.

Special Situations ~ Prior Approval Needed

Upon request, CNG staff will sometimes make special arrangements for the following members who do not automatically qualify for remote inspections: 

  • Those who have a farm in a very remote location - ie. more than one hour from the nearest prospective inspector, or
  • Those who have concerns about COVID-19 infection risk.

The Process

  • Those who are automatically eligible to have their farm inspected remotely should indicate interest in receiving an ROI here and send a note to [email protected]
  • Those who fall under “Special Situations” category should contact CNG to see if they can get a special exemption to be inspected remotely. Our determination will be based on inspection history, the particular reasons for the waiver, our ability to assist in finding an in-person reviewer, and other factors. 
  • Follow the Remote Inspection Checklists to help you prepare for and carry out the remote inspection.

Background

In the spring of 2020, we trialed a couple dozen remote inspections, to determine whether they'd provide a reliable alternative to in-person inspections. These are inspections in which the farmer shows the inspector their farm and answers questions via videoconference, using their mobile phone. Our primary motivation was to overcome the restrictions on in-person meetings brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and enable farmers to complete their certification before the growing season got fully under way. These trials were surprisingly successful and well-received. We thoroughly debriefed with the participants to identify best practices and any cautionary notes. Based on our findings CNG will - under the specific conditions outlined above - recognize inspections conducted remotely via videoconference. The first remote inspection policy took effect June 20, 2020.

Updates

The original remote inspection policy was updated in May 2021 to remove the provision allowing new members to automatically be allowed to receive a remote inspection. Requesting approval for a remote inspection is discouraged for new members except under unusually extenuating circumstances. New members who nevertheless seek a remote inspection may get info on how to request a waiver here

As of November 12, 2021, all remote inspections are required to be Remote Observed Inspections (ROIs). 

 

This policy will be periodically updated.

Drafted 6/19/20
Updated 7/9/20, 5/10/21, 11/12/21