What is ISCC?
International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) is an auditable system to certify Australian grains for sale as sustainable. It has broadened from canola to include barley used to produce export malt, and has the potential to extend to wheat, pulses and other commodities in coming years.
ISCC is voluntary, with no obligation on growers to participate.
Exporters such as Boortmalt Asia Pacific, ADM, Bunge, Cargill, Centre State Exports, CHS Broadbent, Viterra and GrainCorp trade Australian canola and barley in compliance with the ISCC system.
Under the banner of Sustainable Grain Australia (SGA), the ISCC system enables exporters to be in a better position to supply international markets and position Australian grains as the preferred choice based on quality, price and sustainable practices.
SGA is not the only group to adopt ISCC in Australia. CBH Marketing and Trading has adopted the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) program to enable WA growers to export into these valuable markets and meet customer preferences.
The ISCC scheme provides the downstream supply chain with the assurances they require that their agricultural raw materials were produced in a sustainable way that meets or exceeds community expectations.
SGA acts as a central office for ISCC for many Australian traders and is fully integrated with the National Grower Register, making it easier for growers to register and complete the necessary declarations.
Do all growers have to participate in ISCC?
The ISCC scheme is completely voluntary, so there is no obligation for growers to participate.
Why should growers participate?
Again, there is no obligation to participate in the ISCC scheme. However, canola sold for the European biofuel market must meet the legislative requirements set out by the European Union under its renewable energy directive (RED). ISCC was originally established to satisfy the EU requirements for biofuel, but has since evolved into one of the more commonly used and accepted sustainability certification schemes in the world for food, feed, beverages and biofuel. The European biofuel industry pays a premium for certified canola.
With sustainability and traceability becoming increasingly important to buyers of other grains, particularly malting barley, South Australian growers can leverage the experience with canola to gain an export advantage and access premium prices.
ISCC is a long-established scheme which is recognised globally. Participation in the ISCC scheme means grain traded as certified is recognised as meeting the sustainability requirements of the Sustainable Ag Initiative, to which most major global food and beverage companies have committed.
ISCC case study: Jordan Wilksch, Yeelanna
Jordan Wilksch is an ISCC-certified grain producer, farming at Yeelanna on the lower Eyre Peninsula.
He has been through an ISCC audit and says it was a positive experience for him and the business.
“It is a bit of an anxious time beforehand,” he says.
“They are lifting the lid on aspects of your business, such as record keeping and OH&S processes, but Centre State Exports and the auditor were both very supportive right through the preparation and follow-up.”
Mr Wilksch found the preparation more daunting than the audit itself, due to the organisation of records and general housekeeping that were required beforehand.
He says it ended up being far less stressful than some of the other audits the farm is subject to, which can be a lot more particular about small details.
In the end, he appreciated the opportunity to examine his processes and identify areas that needed attention.
“Like most grain producers, we have worked hard to get our chemical storage and handling right, and that was borne out in the audit,” he says.
“However, it showed we could improve some of our staffing practices, which we have taken as a positive outcome.
“Overall, it was a good exercise for us to do.”
Mr Wilksch says South Australian grain growers should be open to joining the ISCC program as it can lead to better market access, premium grain prices and business processes.
“An audit can be used to help tighten up your paperwork and operations, which is good for your farm and the people who work on it,” he says.
“It’s not a reason to get stressed, it’s an opportunity to improve.”
This article first appeared in GPSA’s Grain Producer magazine.
How do growers participate?
Growers looking to sell grain to one of the Sustainable Grain Australia participants need to complete an SGA ‘Grower Sustainability Declaration’ using the NGR system.
As with any certification system, participants must be prepared to be audited. Growers who complete a Sustainable Grain Australia Grower Sustainability Declaration and trade sustainable grain may be subject to an audit.
Growers who participate need to be able to demonstrate they have sustainably produced the crop in accordance with specified requirements. Growers are also required to demonstrate they utilise good agricultural practice.
Examples of typical documentation required to demonstrate compliance include spray diaries, agronomist’s recommendations, soil tests and paddock records. Growers will also need to be able to show the auditor and/or have a discussion about how their chemicals and fertilisers are stored, applied and disposed of. Growers must also be prepared to discuss how they address the occupational health, safety and the welfare of yourself and your employees.