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VAL’HOR (Plante Bleue) and MPS tighten ties
At the recent international agricultural trade fair ‘Salon International de l’ Agriculture’ in Paris, semi-governmental trade association VAL’HOR and MPS extended their partnership agreement. Moreover, this agreement now also covers Excellence Végétale, a foundation that promotes companies with sustainable production methods and works to coordinate and promote Plante Bleue and MPS certification.
Plante Bleue
VAL’HOR is the scheme manager of France’s premier social and sustainability certification scheme, Plante Bleue. There are three levels of Plante Bleue certification: the highest level (level 3) is based on social requirements and monitored environmental registration (through MPS-ABC, for instance) of crop protection products, fertilisers, water management, energy use and waste management. Combining Plante Bleue with MPS-ABC registration lets growers reach the highest level of certification. In the previous agreement, the two parties had already agreed to offer combined audits. Yolande van den Boom (CEO MPS Group): “Together with the aforementioned parties, we are committed to continued sustainable development in the French Flowers & Ornamentals sector, lifting the sector to a higher plane. 

For more information, please contact Raymond Scheepens: r.scheepens@my-mps.com, +31 (0) 6 53 86 25 51 

 
New animation: Transparancy in the international  floricultural supply chain
FSI is a network organisation of various parties and NGOs that are working together towards a more sustainable Flowers & Ornamentals sector. MPS is involved in this effort as part of its ambition to bring parties together in order to work on making sustainability efforts more transparent. FSI’s objective is to ensure that 90 percent of all products traded by its members are purchased and traded sustainably by 2020.

In order to achieve this FSI objective, the sector must intensify and accelerate its transition to sustainable practices. The only way this can be done is by adopting an overarching approach. That is why MPS and FSI are collaborating on a project to make the chain more transparent, 
focusing on reducing the use of plant protection products throughout the chain, among other efforts. Other key objectives include improving transparency and communication throughout the chain. MPS-ABC registration and MPS-ProductProof are essential tools for the project, as they enable accurate registration and analysis, whilst encouraging the transition to more sustainable growing practices. The animation below explains how this all works out in practice. 

For more information, please contact Remco Jansen: r.jansen@my-mps.com, +31 (0)6 512 740 01 
 
Rock-solid combination: MPS-GAP/MPS-ABC
There was some uncertainty in the sector with regard to the timespan required to obtain MPS-GAP, with some companies believing it could take up to a year. MPS-GAP certification need not take that long. Continue reading for a more detailed explanation and 9 other reasons to combine MPS-ABC and MPS-GAP.
Locations MPS-GAP certified companies 
1    MPS-ABC and MPS-GAP reinforce each other
MPS-ABC is the main environmental certificate for consciously sustainable growers. It is a registration tool that can be used to track crop protection products, energy, fertilisers, water and waste. MPS-ABC is a monitored system featuring independent checks, audits and sampling. MPS-ABC is entirely unique in the field of monitored environmental registration.
The MPS-GAP certificate was introduced for companies supplying products to traders retailers, based on certain requirements in the areas of traceability, environment, safety and hygiene. MPS-GAP requires participants to register their use of crop protection products on a daily basis, as is made possible by the MPS-ABC registration tool.
On top of that, MPS-ABC shows (or quantifies) the environmental effect of the measures taken for MPS-GAP.

2    You can obtain MPS-GAP certification in the short term
Growers who are just starting out with MPS-ABC do not have to register their usage for an entire year first, before they can obtain MPS-GAP, as MPS-GAP certification need not take that long. One of the requirements of MPS-GAP is that the companies have an MPS-ABC certificate (or equivalent), but MPS-D status (uncertified) will also be considered sufficient for a limited start-up period. As such, growers need not necessarily complete a full year of registration before they can get started on MPS-GAP.

3    Combining MPS-ABC and MPS-GAP puts participants at the forefront of sustainable development and makes it easier to keep up with future developments, as initiated by FSI, for instance
MPS-GAP meets all FSI2020 requirements and has been included in the “basket”. In the near future, Credible Record Keeping will also become an FSI requirement, which will hopefully encourage many other parties to follow suit. Credible Record Keeping through MPS-ABC is the basis for MPS-GAP. With MPS-GAP, participants can be sure that they are ready for the future.

4    MPS-ABC and MPS-GAP certification are made visible in the Trade Portal
Many traders already recognise and use the MPS Trade Portal as a strategical purchasing tool for certified sustainable products from the flowers & ornamentals sector. All MPS-certified companies are shown on this platform, boosting their chances on the international and domestic market.

5    MPS-GAP is ambitious, granting bonus points for purchasing certified starter material
MPS-GAP has the ambition to close the chain when it comes to sustainability. In addition to the fact that MPS-ABC acts as a foundation for MPS-GAP, growers are faced with more and more requirements with regard to starting materials and additional purchases. In many cases, starter materials and additional purchases must also be GAP-certified. MPS-GAP works with a step-by-step process that sees a company work towards using only certifiably sustainable materials in 3 years’ time. With this process, MPS helps growers become more sustainable at their own pace. Companies purchasing certified starter material also receive MPS-ABC bonus points.

6    MPS-GAP is benchmarked with GLOBALG.A.P.
All companies certified with MPS-GAP feature on the MPS Trade Portal and in the GLOBALG.A.P. database. This is important, because retailers (e.g. in Germany) are tightening their sustainability requirements. Thanks to this benchmark, MPS-GAP-certified companies can also be found by German retailers.

7.    MPS-GAP participants can use two (consumer) labels
All MPS-certified companies can use the uniform MPS vignette, which features a unique number that is linked to Volgjebloemofplant.nl, a website that consumers can use to find out more about a product’s certificates and origins. On top of that, the platform gives growers the opportunity to showcase their companies and products. In addition to this MPS Vignette, MPS-GAP participants can also use the GGN label (the GLOBALG.A.P. consumer label), although this does require them to add GRASP to their certification package . Companies wishing to feature the GGN label on their products must enter into a license agreement with GLOBALG.A.P. and pay a license fee.

8    MPS-ABC / MPS-GAP certification boosts reputation
By participating in MPS-ABC, growers make their performance transparent and quantifiable. On top of that, the Credible Record System used by MPS is one of the most progressive of its kind all over the world. Companies can use MPS-GAP to showcase their Good Agricultural Practices, and combining MPS-ABC with MPS-GAP truly makes one plus one equal three.

 9    MPS has a global presence and offers its customers a “One-stop shop” 
MPS-certified growers already operate in 40 countries all over the world, but GAP certification - an international standard - allows them to make the most of all international opportunities they encounter. Because MPS-ECAS can handle the entire certification process, including for MPS certificates, growers only need to go to one place.

10   Legal requirements included in MPS-GAP
Various legal requirements, such as demonstrating mandatory employee instructions and legally required RI&Es have been included in MPS-GAP.
Finally, both MPS-ABC and MPS-GAP are now ISO 17065-accredited product certification schemes, guaranteeing independence, worldwide recognition and certain reliability and quality.

For more information, please contact Raymond Scheepens: r.scheepens@my-mps.com, +31 (0) 6 53 86 25 51 
MPS continues to grow in North America
Last month, another three companies in North America started off with MPS-ABC registration. Charlotte Smit, our regional MPS coordinator, paid a visit to the companies to inform them about the latest sustainability developments and help them explore how they can use the outcome of their MPS-ABC registration to improve their sustainability performance and transparency. Kraemers Nursery, Means Nursery and Olive Hill Greenhouses got started with the innovative tools provided by MPS with great zeal. In North America, MPS works with the AmericanHort industry organisation.
 
Yolande van den Boom (MPS Group CEO); “As we share the objective of making the North-American horticultural sector more sustainable, we try to work with AmericanHort as much as possible. We help growers become more sustainable by providing our unique, innovative tools and schemes, which are met with great enthusiasm. It is our ambition to continue increasing the share of MPS-ABC-certified companies in the USA. More than 30% of the Top 100 largest growers in the US is already MPS-ABC certified and this share is growing steadily.”
 
Are you all ready for the uniform MPS vignette?
 
The uniform MPS vignette was introduced on 23 August 2017. This vignette replaced a multitude of MPS vignettes and logos that had been used in the flowers & ornamentals sector up to that time. Together with the interactive platform www.followyourflowerorplant.nl/en, the uniform MPS vignette contributes to uniform working methods and product labelling for products by MPS-certified companies, as well as offering transparency to consumers.

The old vignettes could be used until 31 December 2018. However, as of 1 January 2019, the old vignettes of the corresponding certificates may no longer be used on materials, such as packaging, plant markers, etc.


 
If you have any questions, please contact the MPS Service & Support team in The Netherlands at:
T. +31 174 615700
E. info@my-mps.com

This newsletter is given in good faith by MPS.
MPS cannot assume any responsibility for the accuracy or reliability of the information contained in these newsletter.







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Developing sustainable solutions together
 
More and more partnerships are emerging in the chain to develop sustainable solutions together. MPS is a big supporter of this. After all, joining forces, sharing knowledge and promoting transparency are important values nowadays. In this MPS NewsFlash, we will focus on one of these partnerships: our joint project with Natuur & Milieu, LTO, WUR and CLM to develop an ‘Environmental Indicator for Crop Protection Products.’ We will describe this project in greater detail below. Natuur & Milieu believes we are an ‘important link between growers, the market and society’, which is something we’re very proud of. We will keep you informed of our progress in this project!  

Yolande van den Boom, CEO MPS Group
Natuur & Milieu examines environmental footprint of crop protection products
The public debate about cutting back on the use of crop protection products has been going on for decades. “It took a little longer for the discussion to jump from food to flowers & ornamentals, but the fact that the sector has started working on this issue is a positive sign”, says Jelmer Vierstra, programme leader at Natuur & Milieu, where he is responsible for organic production. “However, there is plenty of room for improvement, as violations of drinking and surface water standards are all too frequent and Dutch biodiversity is not doing well.”
A balancing act
Vierstra: “Our goal is to ensure that growing crops no longer harms the environment. However, growers can only implement measures that fit the economic reality in which their businesses operate.” Because of food safety, growers in the fruit and vegetable sector have been working on organic production for much longer. 
In the flowers & ornamentals sector, it took a little longer for this discussion to arise, because human health is less of an issue here. “Despite this, the average grower of flowers & ornamentals uses more crop protection products than a producer of fruit & vegetables, because of stricter aesthetic requirements. As such, it is a good thing that it has become a hot topic in the flowers & ornamentals sector too, as it means the market will start demanding improvement and be open to a discussion about costs”, says the programme leader. 
More ProductProof
Natuur & Milieu believes more growers should seek to become ProductProof-certified, rather than ‘just’ MPS-ABC-certified. Tuinbranche Nederland, one of the Dutch environmental organisation’s partners, is also in favour of this move. Vierstra: “The main reason is that ProductProof shows whether certain products have not been used. Thanks to daily registration and extra samples, the checks & balances involved in this certificate are much more stringent.” To help the environment as much as possible, the programme leader has two strategies in mind that should, preferably, be combined. Reducing the use of the most toxic products, where possible, and treating water used in the greenhouse industry, because some products simply cannot be cut out entirely.”
Low-risk products 
He also has three solutions to aid the transition from high-risk to low-risk products. “There are plenty of CPPs, but some require in-depth knowledge to be used effectively. On top of that, they can be more expensive than more common alternatives”, says Vierstra. 

Another solution is to breed more resistant varieties of crops, which can withstand diseases and pests. The parties purchasing these products also have a role to play, as it’s up to them to demand these crops. Vierstra’s third solution is better coordination of environmental requirements, because growers currently have to deal with different parties who all have different demands. “It would be best if we wouldn’t only start asking which specific products are used, but also inquire after the full environmental impact of all products used”, says Vierstra.
That’s why Natuur & Milieu is an enthusiastic supporter of the ‘Environmental Indicator for Crop Protection Products’, a project that they initiated along with many other industry parties, such as MPS, LTO, WUR and CLM. The aim of this project is to develop an integrated indicator and a calculation system that describe the effects of crop protection products on the environment, biodiversity and health; that meets the wants & needs of the industry, market and society; that provides an easy, transparent way to calculate the impact of growing a particular crop; that can be applied internationally, and that is widely supported.
Transparency in the chain
Vierstra also highlights that the discussion surrounding sustainability is here to stay and that the role played by organisations such as MPS is only set to increase. "Sustainability starts with transparency in the chain. 
That’s one of MPS’s great strengths: they gather information and make it transparent, which makes them an important link between growers, the market and society. We’re very enthusiastic about their positive efforts”, Vierstra concludes.
Lead time for MPS-GAP certification 
For some time, there has been uncertainty in the industry with regard to how long it takes to obtain MPS-GAP certification, with some parties even claiming that it can take a year. The lead time for obtaining MPS-GAP certification is much shorter than many people think. Growers who have just started the MPS-ABC process (or have yet to start) do not have to keep registrations for a year before they can obtain MPS-GAP certification. 

When growers start their MPS-ABC registrations, they will not be certified for the first 13 four-week periods. Nevertheless, they can still get started with MPS-GAP certification immediately, up to 17 periods (68 weeks) after the start of the initial registration. 

If you have any questions about MPS-GAP certification, please contact Raymond Scheepens at r.scheepens@my-mps.com or on tel. +31 (0)6 538 625 51.
MPS Customer Panel on 29 January and 5 February 2019
As part of the development of the new MPS-ABC scheme, a number of MPS-ABC participants met up at MPS on 29 January and 5 February. These meetings were organised by MPS in order to discuss the new MPS registration tool. The purpose of the meeting was to take stock of practical experiences with the current tool and any wishes for the new registration tool, a mobile application, and the MY-MPS user environment. The meetings have led to a comprehensive overview of needs & wishes, which will now be tested for practical feasibility and,
where possible, be implemented in the new registration tool. 

If you have any questions or would like to take part in the MPS Customer Panel, please contact Martine Holtkamp by sending an e-mail to m.holtkamp@my-mps.com or calling her on +31 (0) 6 834 833 67.

 
Instructional videos for MPS-ABC registration

MPS supports participants in MPS-ABC and, optionally, MPS-ProductProof in registering their consumption levels as efficiently and easily as possible. 
Registration (periodic registration) or Actres Top (daily registration) and have any questions about this, you can now also consult our instructional videos with useful tips & tricks. These instructional videos will soon also be available in English. You can find our instructional videos here.

Of course, our Service & Support team is always ready to help: Contact MPS Service & Support at info@my-mps.com or on +31 (0)174 615 715.
Are you all ready for the uniform MPS vignette?

The uniform MPS vignette was introduced on 23 August 2017. This vignette replaced a multitude of MPS vignettes and logos that had been used in the flowers & ornamentals sector up to that time. Together with the interactive platform www.followyourflowerorplant.nl/en, the uniform MPS vignette contributes to uniform working methods and product labelling for products by MPS-certified companies, as well as offering transparency to consumers. You can continue to use the old vignettes until the end of this year. Starting from 1 January 2019, the old vignettes of the certificates in question may no longer be used on materials such as packaging, plant markers, etc.

If you have any questions, please contact the MPS Service & Support team in The Netherlands at:
T. +31 174 615700
E. info@my-mps.com

 

This newsletter is given in good faith by MPS.

MPS cannot assume any responsibility for the accuracy or reliability of the information contained in these newsletter.

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