Five Steps to Certification
Step 1: Apply for Certification
Once you’ve made the decision to go organic by adopting organic practices, it will be necessary to select an accredited certifying agent.
By choosing OCIA, you are requesting certification from a high-integrity, non-profit, member-run organization. Operations may also choose to be members of OCIA. Annually members vote on the fee schedule, board of directors, and other important agenda items. Our members have also established chapters which conduct farm tours and hold educational events at the local destinations. Which is why the Cornucopia Institute has given OCIA an Exemplary rating and called OCIA “one of the most farmer-centric certifiers in the country.” https://www.cornucopia.org/certifier-guide/ocia/
Information about the organic programs available from OCIA can be found online HERE, along with the requirements for each program.
The first step is to submit an application along with your Organic System Plan. Fees, which include certification costs and your estimated inspection costs, are also due at this time. Our applications can be found and submitted online at www.ocia.org or by calling an OCIA office.
Step 2: Pre-Inspection Review
After OCIA receives your complete application, we review it to verify whether it appears your operation will comply with the organic regulations.
We call this process the pre-inspection review (PIR). An OCIA Reviewer will verify all required information is on-file and that your operation complies with the organic standards. OCIA will contact you if additional information is needed or if your operation is ready for inspection.
Step 3: On-site Inspection
OCIA assigns an OCIA approved inspector to conduct an on-site inspection. The inspector verifies the Organic System Plan you provided is accurate and matches the practices being followed at your operation. They will also assess if there is any risk to organic integrity. Inspectors will communicate their findings, regarding the organic programs you have requested, to OCIA.
OCIA hires independent inspectors who have been trained in their specific field of expertise (e.g. crops, livestock, processing, grower groups). We try to assign an inspector near you to keep the cost of your inspection to a minimum. Inspectors will contact you directly to schedule a time to visit.
Step 4: Compliance Review
OCIA reviews the application and the inspection report to determine if your operation complies with the organic regulations.
During this time, an OCIA Reviewer may have additional questions for you as they review your application alongside the inspector’s report.
Step 5: Decision
If your operation has met all the organic compliance requirements, OCIA issues an organic certificate for the programs you requested. This certificate will note the processes and/or products that are certified. Documentation will accompany your certificate to give feedback on minor issues that must be addressed, including any necessary deadlines for response.
Certification must be maintained annually, so updating the Organic System Plan and annual on-site inspections are required to maintain your organic certifications. OCIA will contact you to provide these updates.
Please note that applying for certification is not a guarantee. All organic requirements must be met before your operation can be certified organic. But, please know that you have chosen a high integrity accredited certifying agent that will do its best to help you succeed.