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Organic Certification. Requirements and Choices. What Organic Certification Means. Agricultural crops were grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, etc. The food was produced without the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s)

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organic certification

Organic Certification

Requirements and Choices

what organic certification means
What Organic Certification Means
  • Agricultural crops were grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, etc.
  • The food was produced without the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s)
  • Land has not been treated with prohibited inputs for at least 3 years
  • Meat and Eggs are from animals fed exclusively certified organic feed, no antibiotics or growth hormones
  • Milk is from animals fed organic feed for at least a year, and no routine antibiotics
what organic certification means3
What organic certification means
  • Animals are given access to the outdoors, in accordance with weather and production stage
  • Ruminants are given access to pasture
  • Livestock are provided with living conditions appropriate for their natural behavioral requirements
  • The production system aims to protect biodiversity and long-term soil health
  • Processed food was made without synthetic flavourings, preservatives, colours, or additives
  • Processed foods contain at least 95% organic ingredients
organic certification may mean but does not guarantee that
Organic certification may mean, but does not guarantee that:
  • The product is completely GMO-free
  • The product is completely free from pesticide residues, heavy-metals, or biological contamination
  • The product is locally produced
  • The product is fair-trade
  • The product was produced on a small farm
  • The product is nutritionally superior to non-organic food
why grow organically
Why grow organically?
  • Potential for lower input costs (pesticides, fertilizers, GMO-seed)
  • Higher prices for your products
  • Protection of the environment
  • Less risk to farmer-health (pesticides)
  • Greater long-term sustainability
  • Possibly lower capital costs (fewer acres, smaller machines, smaller barns)
why not grow organically
Why not grow organically?
  • Cost- certification fees
  • Cost- possibly greater production costs (animal feed, organic fertilizers, organic weed control)
  • Time- filling out application forms, inspection
  • Time- possibly greater farm management time (field work, pasturing animals, barn cleaning)
  • Lack of markets / buyers or market access
  • Possibility of reduced yields (corn, wheat, dairy)
  • Steeper learning curve, fewer training resources
if you re organic why certify
If you’re organic, why certify?
  • After December 14th, 2008, the CFIA will require certification for all products labelled “Organic”
  • Organic certification can add value to products
  • Often required for access to markets
  • Consumer trust
  • Fairness to competing certified farmers
  • Access to information, planning and record-keeping resources from certifiers
how do i get certified step 1 background preparation
How do I get certified?Step 1: background preparation
  • Research the Canadian Organic Standard (COS) and other relevant standards and understand how they apply to your operation
  • Obtain training, farming experience as necessary: learn how to farm organically
  • Prepare an “Organic Plan”: Document how you plan to farm organically
  • Consider hiring a private consultant
  • Research and approach potential markets
choosing a certifying body points to consider
Choosing a certifying body:Points to consider
  • Who are your buyers? Does the buyer have a preference? Do consumers trust the name?
  • In which countries will your products be sold? (to which standard(s) will you need to be certified?)
  • How much does the CB charge? How are their fees determined? (acreage? % of sales?)
  • Do they provide good customer service? (ask other certified farmers)
some of the cb s active in ontario this is not an exhaustive list
Some of the CB’s active in Ontario(this is not an exhaustive list)

ProCert (formerly OCPP)

  • Based in Saskatchewan, office in Cambray, ON
  • Largest CB in Ontario


  • Based in Quebec, office in Guelph, ON and Saskatchewan
  • Second largest CB in Ontario

Quality Assurance International (QAI)

  • Based in the USA, office in Guelph
  • Focus on processors

Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA)

  • Based in USA, no office in Ontario
  • Fee structure includes a percentage of sales
some of the cb s active in ontario this is not an exhaustive list11
Some of the CB’s active in Ontario(this is not an exhaustive list)

Centre for Systems Integration (CSI)

  • Based in Ottawa
  • Accredited for all major standards
  • New on the scene, Primarily does seed certification as part of gvt. system

Demeter International

  • Certification according to Organic and BioDynamic principles developed by Rudolf Steiner
  • Not accredited for the major organic standards

Local Food Plus (LFP)

  • Does NOT offer organic certification
  • Offers a private, local “ecological” certification standard
paperwork the ecocert example
Paperwork: the Ecocert Example

There are 3 basic documents to fill out in order to become registered.

  • Registration Form (2 pages)
  • Production Questionnaire (3-4 pages)
  • Field History Sheet

In addition, you may need to keep the following records:

  • Organic Plan
  • Production Records (how much did you produce?)
  • Field Activity summary (what did you do in the fields?)
  • Animal Health Records
  • Field and farmyard maps
  • Proofs of purchase for inputs, data sheets, non-GMO certificates, affidavits, proof of non-availability
  • Documents from other inspection agencies, health departments
resources to help with records
Resources to help with records
  • Ecocert has record-keeping templates you can use, or you can design your own
  • Ecocert accepts electronic records, not necessary to print them out
  • Your customer representative can help you fill out the records