Requirements for USDA Organic Certification
This is a process that must be completed yearly. If you keep good records and create a reliable template/plan the first year, record keeping will be much easier in the future:
- Follow the USDA Organic Practices, for 3 years, beginning from the time that non-organic practices were discontinued.
- Maintain records to substantiate these steps.
- Maintain an organic farm plan. The goal is to to build organic matter and maximize soil coverage with crops or cover crops.
- Contact an organic certifier of your choice (see resources below).
- Once certification agency application is completed (including farm plan and documentation of actions to land) make an appointment for the certifier to send an inspector.
- Inspector will come when there is a crop in the soil. This inspection will take from 3-8 hours, depending on the complexity of your farm.
- Complete inspection with inspector. Make any required adjustments.
- Pay fees to certifier (there is no longer a state registration fee or process).
- Receive organic certificate, which now means that the produce can be sold with an organic label (including USDA Organic)
If you are a farmer looking to become USDA GAP Certified, follow the USDA Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices Audit Verification Checklist. To pass with a GAP Certification, make sure you will be able to pass all tests with at least an 80 percent. In addition, use the USDA GAP and GHP Audit User’s Guide.
If you are a farmer looking to assure safe food, without a USDA GAP Certification, use this Michigan’s Safe Food Risk Assessment - a voluntary and confidential food safety program for small, direct-market producers.
Fraudulent Organic Certificates
Fraudulent Certificates Reported to NOP
Shree Mahalaxmi Psyllium Pvt Ltd (announced March 12, 2013)
Xi’an Pengtime Corporation (announced March 11, 2013)
Oregon Tilth Online Certification Tool: MYOTCO
Oregon Tilth, the leader in organic certification with a focus on customer service, introduces MyOTCO, an online certification tool allowing clients 24-7 online access to their certification information including Certificates, Organic System Plans, Inspection reports, easy at-a-glance tracking of renewal and application status and more.
"As Organic Certification becomes more challenging and more
sophisticated we want to provide increased customer service, and more
clients are asking about online access. This is the first step in
working towards providing clients increased access to their information
as well as expanding assistance in working through the certification
process," stated Connie Karr, Certification Director for Oregon Tilth.
"We will continue to develop this tool to improve the ability to do more
online through MyOTCO."
Future plans for MyOTCO include two-way interaction and the ability to submit documents, requests and certification items online. The release of MyOTCO to all Oregon Tilth Certified clients shows the commitment that Oregon Tilth has to their customers. Through increased accessibility and transparency OTCO continues to support the organic community, constantly striving to make certification more accessible.
- Getting to Organic: Profiles of How Michigan Farmers Made Their Transition to Organic Agriculture | MOFFA | Features stories from 5 farmers in Michigan describing their path to organic farming.
- Transitioning to Certified Organic in Michigan: Learn about transitioning to organic farming and where to start? | by Vicki Morrone, Michigan State University
- ATTRA Organic Farm Plan | Form to request organic crop/farm certification
- How To Go Organic | Organic Trade Association
- MOSES Organic Tree Fruit Certification | Consumer demand for tree fruit that is organically certified and locally grown is on the rise.
- ATTRA Resource Guide to Organic & Sustainable Vegetable Production
- Midwest Organic Services Association
- Stellar Certification Service, Inc.
- Oregon Tilth Certified Organic
- Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development
- Organic Crop Improvement Association
- Quality Assurance International
- Global Organic Alliance, Inc.
- International Certification Services