The guidelines provide a common platform for all horticultural industries in Australia interested in implementing an environmental assurance process.
The guidelines cover the growing, harvesting, packing, storage and dispatch stages of horticultural production. Horticultural production includes fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, nursery products, nuts, herbs, mushrooms, grapes and turf supplied for sale to customers in the wholesale, retail and food service sectors, or for further processing, across all climate zones in Australia. It does not cover the production of sprouts and minimally processed products (e.g. fresh cuts) or grapes for wine production.
The guidelines provide a platform for creating environmental auditing and certification options that deal with Australian environmental issues, but do not in themselves deliver certification. Businesses further down the formal Environmental Management System (EMS) pathway may need to seek more site and crop specific information.
It is not about introducing compulsory systems or assurance process, or adding to the range of systems and programs already available and being developed for growers. All activities are focused on ensuring environmental management is a benefit and not a burden to industry.
It is important to recognise that the guidelines are not a substitute for local, state or national legislative requirements. Given the breadth and variation of legislative requirements across Australia, it is strongly recommended that specific information be sought from relevant authorities to ensure compliance.