Including Community Stakeholders at Inspections

Moon Dog Alternative Organic Sustainable Inspection
Galveston's Own Farmers Market Manager Stephanie Ortiz inspects Moon Dog Farms in Santa Fe, TX

Community Stakeholder Witness to Inspections

Peer inspections have always been at the heart of CNG's certification model. This will never change, but it's time for our approach to evolve. In particular, we’ll encourage members to include community stakeholders as witnesses to the CNG inspections. While it's not required, we feel it's a valuable approach, with several benefits that are outlined below. 


Key benefits of including Community Stakeholders as Witnesses:

1) Flexibility with the "No repeat inspectors" rule:

For members who are located in areas without other CNG farmers nearby, it has become difficult to complete the annual inspection requirement without relying on the same inspector year after year. This situation has bumped up against CNG's policy to require members to rely on a variety of inspectors, and not go back to the same inspector year after year. This rule helps to protect CNG’s integrity, as well as the public perception of integrity.

In situations where it's very difficult to find a different inspector year after year, having a Community Stakeholder witness the inspection would both a) waive the restriction on repeatedly using the same inspector, and b) put a fresh set of eyes on the farming operation. Including the Witnesses enhances transparency and gives a greater sense of integrity to the process, for those who might otherwise be skeptical of a peer-review program. Those who witness the inspection would be asked to sign the updated Inspection Summary Sheet with Stakeholder Signature Lines.

2) Marketing Your Farm and your CNG certification:
There are still many people who don't yet know what it means to be CNG. Including local leaders raises awareness of CNG, and helps people realize there's a robust process that takes place before someone can earn permission to use the CNG label.

S&H Farm Alternative Organic Group InspectionDendi Ranch farmers Diane and Dennis Mummert inspect S&H Farm (now retired) in Oxford, NC

What does the Community Stakeholder do?

They are there to witness, not to advise. They may ask questions at times designated by the inspector, but their role is to observe and verify that a thorough inspection was completed. The entire inspection should be carried out with the witness present, able to see and hear what is being said and observed. At the end of the inspection, the Witness should sign the Inspection Summary Report at the bottom, in the space/s designated for Witnesses.


Who Counts as a Community Stakeholder?

  • Farmers Market Manager
  • Manager at local independent grocer
  • Local small business owner
  • Local faith leader
  • Local doctor
  • Teacher/professor
  • Local elected official
  • Food policy council member
  • Customers of your farm
  • Others!

Choices are not limited to this list. If you have an individual in mind that would fit under another category, let us know. It could be a helpful suggestion for other members too. 

The following people should not be used as a Witness (for the same reason they're not eligible to be inspectors):

  • Family members
  • Interns
  • Employees


How Many Witnesses?

We recommend you include one or two, but no more than two.

Urban Community Garden Alternative Organic Certification InspectionKevin Prather of SCG Market Garden inspects Urban Roots Farm in Springfield, MO

If you have any questions about community stakeholders as witnesses, or want to pass on some feedback, please give us a call at 845 687 2058 or send an email to

If you'd like to include community stakeholders in your next inspection, visit our Forms Page for your respective certification's Inspection Form that includes the new Summary with Stakeholder Signature Lines