Certification is the process used to ensure that organic products are in line with the Canadian Organic Standards. Organic certification is a system that helps ensure the integrity of organic products from field to table. It is a minimum benchmark that determines the basic requirements for organic food production systems. But what exactly does it take to get your crops certified organic? What does the process look like? Who certifies crops as organic? Get all the information you need on the certification process below.
Get a list of Certification Bodies operating on the Canadian Prairies.
Are you selling selling into a market outside Canada? Ask if you require a separate certification for that market, and if they offer that service.
What experience do they have with the type of crops you are planning to produce?
What resources and support do they provide? What is their fee structure? Do they certify other businesses in your area?
Transitioning from conventional to organic takes 36 months from the last application of a prohibited substance to when a certified organic crop can be harvested. This typically means two to three years of transitional crops before the first certified organic crop is harvested, depending on when the last prohibited substance was applied during the growing season. If applied in the spring, transition will likely take two years; if applied in the fall, transition will take closer to three years.
Each organic farmer must certify with an accredited certification body. The certification body oversees the certification process and verifies that organic products are compliant with the Canadian Organic Standards. Maintaining certification year-to-year requires annually providing the certifier with your detailed production plan, conducting an inspection, and reviewing of your business. Aspects of your business that are found non-compliant with the organic standard must be resolved before your business can be granted organic status by the certifier.
The application process requires detailed information on the history of your farm operations. The required information could include, but is not limited to: field history, harvest, storage and seed records, description of crop rotations, acreage maps, fertility, weed and pest management, equipment used, and input documentation. Refer to your certify body for application requirements.
Certification costs will vary depending on the certifying body. Some agencies will charge a flat rate, and others will have a series of rates, or charge based on acreage, production, size and complexity of the operation. Certifying bodies can be non-profit organizations or for-profit businesses. Take the time to call different CBs to learn about their fees, what they offer, and learn which one is right for you. It’s also a good idea to talk to other farmers and learn about their experiences.