The Certification Process
Achieving organic status takes a minimum of three years. Before becoming certified a producer must go through the following stages:
- Initial inspection
"All of the organisations start by sending you a form where you have to detail your present and past farming practices and develop a farm plan. After this is completed an inspector will come to your farm to audit and inspect. They will also take soil and/or crop samples for residue testing." (Organic Federation of Australia)
- Pre-certification (Year 1)
"Organic standards require that a farming enterprise must undergo a 12-month supervision period by an accredited certifying agency to ensure a workable conversion plan is in place." (DAFWA)
"If you pass this first inspection, then your farm will be considered in pre conversion for a year. The conversion to A grade organic generally takes 3 years. The farm will then have full organic certification and access to all the organic markets." (Organic Federation of Australia)
"Following an initial farm inspection, there will be a pre certification period of one year, in which you will be under a contract agreement to operate according to NASAA's Standards. The pre-certification period commences at the date of return of the Questionnaire (referred to as an Organic Management Plan or OMP) if it is received before 12 June 2011. Applicants to NCO whose completed OMP was received on or after 12 June 2011 will begin their pre-certification as from the date of their first inspection. Full compliance with the production standards is required during this 'pre-conversion' period, to demonstrate the producer's ability to manage their enterprise organically, prior to gaining 'in-conversion' status. During this period, no goods may be labelled or sold as 'Organic'. They may, of course, be sold into conventional markets." (NASAA)
- In-conversion (Year 2 and 3)
"A subsequent inspection will be arranged towards the end of your initial 12 months under pre certification to ascertain the degree to which you have met the standards requirements. Certification as 'in-conversion' may be achieved at this point, following a second review by NASAA and the signing of a licence agreement. The 'in-conversion' period will generally take two years to reach full certification. During this phase, producers may label their goods for sale as organic 'in-conversion'." (NASAA)
"After the first year, the property enters the organic ‘in conversion’ period, when produce sold in the organic marketplace can be labelled accordingly. A property ‘in conversion’ is defined in organic standards as “A production system that has adhered to the standard for at least one year, and has been certified as such, but has not qualified as organic for various reasons. These include reasons such as the conversion system has not been operated within the requirements for the specified period (usually three years); the farm does not meet quality standards, such as soil structure considered appropriate and necessary for organic farms; or the organic management plan has not been sufficiently developed.” (DAFWA)
- Certification (Years 3+)
"Following at least three years of consecutive organic management, full certification may be granted to the producer. Compliance with production standards must continue for your certified status to be ongoing. Annual re-inspections of properties and spot inspections are also required to ensure that the standards are being met." (NASAA)
In Australia, organic certification is performed by a number of organisations accredited by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) under the National Standard for Organic and Bio-Dynamic Produce.
Click on the logo's below to access the certifiers websites to understand the different processes and cost structures.