About OCIA

About OCIA

En Español

OCIA International is one of the world's oldest, largest and most trusted leaders in the organic certification industry. A nonprofit, member-owned, agricultural organization, OCIA is dedicated to providing the highest quality organic certification services and access to global organic markets.

Our Mission

As providers and consumers of certified organic production, we are committed to environmentally sound stewardship.

To accomplish this mission and foster confidence in OCIA's certifications, OCIA lists the following purposes in Article 1 of the OCIA Bylaws:

  • To provide organic crop improvement through professional development of organic farmers and processors, including technical assistance, education information, publications, and research.
  • To establish and maintain a farmer-owned and farmer-controlled organization providing impartial third-party certification as a prerequisite for certification licensing of organic food at all stages of production, processing and distribution.
  • To guarantee the neutrality and integrity of an OCIA-certified organic certification mark.
  • To establish uniform standards and bylaws, which govern production, processing, manufacturing, and practices for trade, and which define the identity and quality of organic foods.
  • To clarify and promote the image of organic products with the OCIA-certified organic mark.

History of OCIA

In the depression years of the dustbowl, farmers started meeting informally to share their mutual farming experience. Having no technical support to enhance the development of their profession, they formed the first “crop improvement” associations. The principles were simple: farmers are the experts on their lands; having regular meetings as opportunities to share their experiences with such techniques and trials, they could acquire the basics of adapted technology.

In the mid-seventies the notion of organic agriculture began circulating within a group of pioneers. A certain parallel was noted between the technological situation of the nineteen-twenties and the challenge of the new organic “movement”. Work started on the idea of an “organic” crop improvement association, which was envisioned as farmers working together to facilitate the development and the transfer of technical expertise. In the early eighties, certification guidelines were formulated which eventually formed the basis of OCIA’s certification program. After few years, a small number of farm groups (chapters) formed independently and assumed the leadership of a combined crop improvement/certification program.

Thus, in the fall of 1985, in Albany, New York, a diverse group of farmers met and structured the concept of a “farmer owned and farmer controlled”association. This initial meeting set the cornerstone of what was to become one of the foremost organic certification agencies in the world.

During those early years, OCIA became well rooted in many farming communities in Canada and the United States. Two important events occurred in 1988. First, the OCIA program took on an international identity when a group of Peruvian farmers joined the organization attracted by the concepts of farmer-to-farmer networking and crop improvement. Second, OCIA International was incorporated as a non-profit organization in the state of Pennsylvania, USA. From then on, the program expanded throughout Latin America. In the early nineties, membership from Europe and Asia added further dimensions to the international body.

In January 1997, OCIA moved the International Office from Bellfontaine, Ohio to Lincoln, Nebraska, which provides easy access to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s sustainable agriculture program.

Today, OCIA is an industry leader and one of the world's largest organic certification agencies. OCIA has thousands of members in North, Central and South America, Africa, Europe and the Pacific Rim. From its humble beginnings, to locations all over the world, OCIA continues to be committed to providing members the highest quality organic certification, as well as access to global organic marketplace.