New Soy Moratorium Protocol leads to adjustments in processes and content
Ongoing improvement should be the watchwords in monitoring the Brazilian soybean production chain. Every year, the audit protocol is updated with basis on opportunities identified in the preceding cycle. The first change to the protocol applied in 2020 was the possibility of carrying out the audit remotely, i.e., without having to go in person to the headquarters of the participating companies and of other entities, such as producers. The other items consider mapped opportunities and route adjustment needs identified both in past audits and by the situation analyses conducted by the members of the Soy Working Group formed by traders, civil society and the government.
In addition to conducting remote auditing, the main points changed include both content and process aspects covering management practices and formats:
Inclusion of verification of remedial action plans, drawn up by the audited company based on non-compliances identified during the previous year.
Preparation and disclosure of the so-called Public Summary of the Final Audit Report.
Improvements and inclusion in guidelines, such as the check of the productivity assessment calculation of supplier farms and the management of non-compliant suppliers.
With the establishment of Soy on Track, it is the first time that the Soy Moratorium Audit Protocol is made public (see here), and can now be followed by stakeholders, along with the reports of the annual audits. The 2020 version was discussed at length with the Soy Working Group (GTS) and shared with auditors and representatives of the companies participating in the Annual Training Workshop, held annually by Imaflora, to update procedures.
The general objectives of the assessment, however, are the same. Through documents and other material evidence, it aims to check if the companies are not buying, trading or funding production originating from: areas deforested within the Amazon Biome after July 2008, areas that are on IBAMA's list of embargoed areas due to deforestation and suppliers included in the slave-like labour list.
Internal process improvements for companies and transparency
The audits that took place in 2020 were an opportunity to gauge progress in relation to the previous year. The protocol now verifies if the signatories have implemented the action plans drawn up on the basis of notes from past audits. The central idea is to create improvements in soybean purchase management systems based on non-compliances or suggestions for improvement.
With the update of the protocol, the companies were encouraged to ask the auditors to produce a Public Summary of the Final Audit Report for disclosure. The suggestion to publish this summary is good transparency practice and makes the actions and efforts undertaken to meet the requirements of the Soy Moratorium by stakeholders more visible. The disclosure is voluntary and may be made in the communication channels of GTS, the Brazilian Vegetable Oil Industry Association (Abiove) or the Beef on Track transparency platform.
Content improvements for audits
The baseline questions for the auditors were reviewed to refine the assessment of certain information, and to increase the accuracy of results. One of the new additions to the baseline questions that relate to the commitment of the Moratorium to 'Not trade soybeans from deforested areas of the Amazon Biome after July 2008' are the topics that assess extraction procedures from the purchase list to identify non-compliant suppliers and on the management of data on the subject. The assessment goes beyond the company's statement about the procedures adopted, including checking the parameters applied in the purchasing management systems to ensure that it covers the entire amount purchased in the audited period. In turn, the auditor must cross-check all the selected suppliers/suppliers in the trade register with the lists of non-compliant rural properties.
Another addition to the protocol is the enhanced check for soybean triangulation potential between direct suppliers and farms of origin. The check is now based on questions about control measures and calculation of the productivity index of suppliers to ascertain if they are within or above the predefined average.
In the next post, we will talk about the procedures used in the remote audit.
Click here to learn more about the 2019/2020 Soybean Moratorium Protocol
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