The Vegaplan Standard is a normative document which assures the quality of primary crop products. Resulting from an interprofessional initiative, it has been developed by agricultural associations and buyers of plant raw materials. It guaranties food safety, traceability, quality, sustainability and Integrated Pest Management. Aside from access to the market, it allows the farmer to ensure that his legal obligations are met and to meet the demands of buyers and the expectations of consumers. The Vegaplan Standard applies to all crops except ornamental crops.
Food safety and the traceability of products are of vital importance. Since the late 90s buyers of vegetable products have been incorporating the legal requirements concerning food safety and traceability in a set of specifications, while united on a platform in consultation with the agricultural organisations. They have also added a number of criteria concerning product quality, environmental protection and employee safety. This has resulted in the ICQM Standard. «ICQM» stands for Integral Chain Quality Management. The first version of the specifications was published in 2004.
Considering the specifications are continuously evolving, account must also be taken of sustainability, a social theme of ever-increasing importance. This theme has environmental, social and economic dimensions. The original ICQM Standard did indeed contain many measures relating to these subjects, mainly in the field of environmental protection.
For the farmer, certification as Vegaplan Standard constitutes proof that he meets:
- the legal requirements of the FASFC (Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain) as regards the Royal Decree dated 14.11.03 on auto control, mandatory notification and traceability in the food chain. He can also benefit from a significant reduction in taxes paid annually to the Agency and have to undergo fewer inspections by the FASFC;
- the regional requirements with respect to sustainable use of pesticides and implementation of Integrated Pest Management;
- a large number of measures linked to cross-compliance which determine access to payment from the Common Agricultural Policy;
- quality criteria imposed by the buyers (cooperatives, traders and processers);
- expectations with regard to sustainable development, including for crops intended for use in biofuels.
In one audit, the farmer meets expectations of various stakeholders. This certification highlights the work provided by the agricultural sector while improving operating performance and constitutes acknowledgement of the quality of the plant matter produced.
For the buyer, Vegaplan certification constitutes simplification with regard to controls, a guaranty that the products delivered match the standards set down in the normative document, and meet the expectations of their clients.