Assurance Overview

Assurance mechanism

Our Assurance Mechanism ensures that our process for accrediting producer organisations (herders and processors) against the SFA Cashmere Standard is credible. We use 1st, 2nd and 3rd Party assessments to ensure rigour throughout our assurance process.

Frequency of assurance activities

First party assessment

All producers are expected to submit a Self-Assessment every year.

Second part assessment

All Self-Assessments will be internally verified by the SFA’s country partners and a feedback report produced.

A sample of these Self-assessments will be selected for external verification by the SFA.

Third party assessment

All producers will be independently assessed (either by receiving an audit visit or by remote monitoring) every year.  The Independent Assessment Report will include either:

  • Where sufficient evidence has been identified – a recommendation to the SFA to provide a Certificate of Accreditation
  • Where insufficient evidence has been identified – a development plan detailing where non-conformances have been identified.

A sample of these independent assessments will be selected for further scrutiny by the SFA.  Where the SFA agrees that sufficient evidence has been provided, a certificate of accreditation will be produced.

Where a development plan has been produced, the producer will be required to submit an implementation plan, identifying how and when the non-conformances will be addressed. No further assessment activity will be carried out until all actions identified in the Implementation Plan have been completed, at which time a further Second Party assessment will be carried out.

Assurance Process

Our assurance process comprises of stages as demonstrated in the following flow diagram:

Awarding criteria

Traffic Lights

A ‘traffic light’ system is used to assess the level of compliance of a herder organisation or processor with the Code of Practice requirements and is intended to incentivize continual improvement in compliance:

  • Green – fully compliant
  • Orange – partly compliant but needing improvement
  • Red – not sufficient to comply with the Code’s requirements.


Each Code of Practice is made up of Core Indicators and Improvement Indicators. 

  • Core indicators – a predefined set of criteria which identify the minimum requirements an organisation is required to comply with
  • Improvement indicators – a set of criteria developed in addition to the core indicators, that an organisation is required to show progress towards over time in order to demonstrate commitment to accomplishing best practice.

Core Indicators are identified as such if they are deemed to be:

  • considered as ‘Safety Critical’, e.g. where there is a risk of illness, injury or death if the correct processes and procedures are not carried out correctly
  • considered as ‘Technically Critical’, e.g. where there is a risk of damage to the environment, fibre, machinery or property if the correct processes and procedures are not carried out correctly
  • Any indicator which refers to directly legislation.

IMPORTANT: All core indicators are mandatory and must all be achieved at ‘Green’ level before any certification will be considered. 

Bronze, Silver and Gold

The specific Awarding Criteria for each Code of Practice is determined by the Standard Setting and Improvement Committee (SSIC):

  • Bronze – 100% of Core Indicators achieved at ‘Green’ level
  • Silver – 100% of Core Indicators plus a specified % of Improvement Indicators achieved at ‘Green’ level
  • Gold – 100% of Core Indicators plus 95% or more Improvement Indicators achieved at ‘Green’ level.