Frequently Asked Questions

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New to organic certification or looking to become certified and not sure where to start? You might find these FAQ topics most useful:
How to Use Action Item Tracker in MyCCOFGo to the “Action Item Tracker” tab in an action item to respond or review.Add communication and/or documents.Click "Mark complete and continue" if you're ready to submit to CCOF. You're not done, you haven't sent the response to CCOF!Once you’ve addressed all your action items, click “Submit complete responses” to... Read more »

Temporary confinement of organic animals is allowed for specific reasons. These reasons are described in §205.239. All periods of confinement must be documented. Confinement records will be reviewed at annual inspections. Read more »

We review websites and marketing of CCOF certified operations to ensure that organic claims are truthful and not misleading about the status of organic and nonorganic products. We look for any use of the word “organic” as well as the CCOF logo or USDA seal. Learn more about what CCOF looks for on a website and marketing to help... Read more »

Yes, breeding bulls, animals denied pasture in accordance with temporary confinement allowances (§ 205.239(b)(1-8), and slaughter stock in the finishing phase are exempt from the 30% dry matter intake (DMI) requirement. Bulls cannot be sold, labeled, or represented as organically produced if they are denied pasture. Those animals... Read more »

No, specific details about space requirements are not regulated at this point in time. The living conditions you provide must accommodate the health and natural behavior of the animals and include year-round access to the outdoors, exercise areas, fresh air, direct sunlight, shade, and shelter. Appropriate clean, dry bedding must be provided, and any shelter provided must be constructed to limit... Read more »

Yes, other allowed medical treatments include vitamins, minerals, probiotics, herbal remedies, and electrolytes. All health care materials must be listed in your Organic System Plan (OSP).Use MyCCOF: Materials Search to find and add materials approved for use in organic production or to request the review of a material you would like to use. Read more »

Yes! CCOF has an inspection partnership with ACO Certification Ltd. (Australia Certified Organic) to offer direct JAS certification to CCOF certified operations. Through our inspection partnership CCOF operations can apply for JAS certification with ACO and have their JAS inspection performed by CCOF inspectors. In most cases the... Read more »

Yes you can. Retail stores are often certified by department, such as produce, meat, bulk foods, prepared foods, etc. Any or all departments can be certified.If you are certifying a prepared food section – such as a bakery, deli, salad bar, or juice or coffee bar – you may choose to certify only selected items instead of all items. As with all other types of certification where both organic and... Read more »

Certification of animals depends on many factors, including your recordkeeping system and the history of the land on which you manage animals. In some cases, CCOF can certify young animals that you currently manage when complete records are available to demonstrate continuous organic management. The final determination about whether animals can be certified will be made after your initial... Read more »

No, it doesn't help others and isn't required in order for someone else to make organic products in your commercial kitchen. Shared kitchens cannot be certified separately from the product produced in them. Facilities, including shared kitchens, are part of the process of making the products, so the people who use your kitchen must include the kitchen as the production facility in their own... Read more »

Non-organic breeder stock must be managed organically during the last third of gestation when the offspring are to be raised as organic livestock. They must also be managed organically while lactating and providing milk to their offspring. During other times, non-organic breeder stock does not need to be managed in accordance with organic standards. Read more »

If organic and non-organic animals are pastured in the same field, they must be clearly identified in a manner that will prevent commingling of the final organic product (meat, milk, etc.). Read more »

No, products labeled as organic must be produced in an inspected and certified organic facility. If you own or lease the facility, you can easily add an uncertified facility location to your own certification. If you contract with the facility to produce your products, the facility will need to apply for a separate organic... Read more »

No, organic animals may only be fed certified organic feed, including pasture; however, dairy operations that are in their third year of organic management may feed crops and forage from land that is in its final year of transition during the 12 months immediately prior to the sale of organic milk. This allowance is provided to reduce the financial burden to dairy farms that want to transition to... Read more »

It depends. A dairy animal that has been under continuous organic management since the last third of gestation may be sold as organic slaughter stock only if it has never been treated with antibiotics or ivermectin, all of which must be clearly documented. Please note that if you intend to sell animals as slaughter stock, you should indicate this in your Organic System Plan and have slaughter... Read more »

Yes, you may store organic and non-organic feed in the same area ONLY if there is clear identification and labeling of feed, and you ensure there is no commingling of the organic feed and non-organic feed. Read more »

Yes, as long as adequate measures are taken to distinguish organic from non-organic, and storage practices do not pose a commingling or contamination risk for organic ingredients. You do not have to have a physical barrier in place, but adequate separation and labeling should be in place to protect the organic product. Read more »

Yes, our clients can transfer parcels, in the certification program, between CCOF certified operations without having to reapply. Simply complete the parcel transfer form and return it to us for each parcel transferred. You will be billed for the service at the time of submission. Parcel transfers must be submitted within one... Read more »

We want to help our certified members grow their businesses, and in doing so the organic marketplace. One way we promote our members is by maintaining a searchable online directory of our certified operations. Those looking to find organic products or services can search by keyword, location, or sales method, including Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), farmers'... Read more »

No, you must use 100% certified organic feed. There are no exceptions. Read more »

Yes, certified organic operations can use shared commercial kitchens to make their products, but they must certify the kitchen for their own use. In your application – called an Organic System Plan (OSP) – you will explain how you keep your products separate from any non-organic products or materials in the kitchen. You will also describe how organic product contact surfaces and processing... Read more »

Yes, you can use off-site storage facilities to store and distribute your products without having that location inspected or certified. Off-site storage facilities and distribution centers are not required to be certified as long as the products are packaged or otherwise enclosed in a container prior to being received or acquired. The product must remain in the same package and may not be... Read more »

No, once an organic animal is treated with any prohibited material, including antibiotics, it can never be brought back to organic production. Any animal treated with antibiotics will lose its organic status and can never return to organic production, even if the animal is managed organically and remains on the organic farm. You must ensure that animals treated with prohibited materials,... Read more »

To market your final product as organic, all slaughter and processing facilities must be certified organic. Contact facilities directly to determine if they have an organic certificate. In cases where a facility does not have an organic certificate, you may not use the facility unless it is inspected by CCOF on behalf of your operation. To be inspected by CCOF, the facility and its practices must... Read more »

If you are certified by CCOF, you can use the “Non-GMO & More” seal. If used on the same panel with the USDA seal, the USDA seal must appear more prominent. When the horizontal version of the "Non-GMO & More" seal is used, prominence is measured by height, and if the vertical version is used, prominence is measured by width. For additional labeling help visit our ... Read more »

Yes! The use of compost is encouraged. The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) and the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) both maintain lists of approved compost suppliers. You can also use... Read more »

At this time, the only synthetic parasiticides allowed for organic producers are ivermectin, moxidectin, and fenbendazole. You may only use these synthetic drugs for emergency treatment of dairy animals and breeder stock. Animals to be sold as organic slaughter stock may never be treated with these materials. Plant-based, herbal de-wormers and other non-synthetic materials are also allowed as... Read more »

Yes, CCOF certification confers the ability to use either the CCOF seal or the USDA seal (or both) on products sold as “100% Organic” and “Organic.” The USDA seal may not be used on products labeled as “Made with Organic (list of specific ingredients).” USDA National Organic Program standards define the... Read more »

No, you cannot use lumber treated with arsenate or other prohibited materials for new installations or replacement purposes in contact with soil or livestock. You may use treated lumber on parts of your property that are not included in your certification, or in areas where the lumber will not contact soil or livestock. Read more »

Seeds treated with prohibited materials are not allowed. Look to the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) or the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) lists of allowed materials to find seed treatments that are approved. Our staff... Read more »

Your MyCCOF account allows you to view invoice descriptions and outstanding balances for your operation! From within MyCCOF, navigate to the ‘Invoices’ tab for your operation and view past and present balances. Once in the ‘Invoices’ tab you can view your Account Status, Description of an Invoice, as well as any outstanding balances.* To pay your balance online click this ‘Pay now’ button in... Read more »

Yes, non-organic animals can graze on certified organic land without affecting the land’s certification. If organic and non-organic animals are pastured in the same field, they must be clearly identified in a manner that will prevent commingling of the final organic product (meat, milk, etc.). Read more »

Dairy operations may transition non-certified livestock to organic by managing animals organically for one year. This is a one-time allowance for an entire, distinct herd. All other livestock, excluding poultry, must be managed organically starting no later than the last third of gestation to qualify for organic certification. Poultry must be managed organically starting no later than the 2nd day... Read more »

CCOF provides organic certification only for crops and products made from them. We do not certify farm inputs and non-organic processing aids. Inputs and processing aids are reviewed and listed by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI)  and the ... Read more »

Many allowed feed supplements and additives are not certified organic. These include products that contain primarily vitamins and minerals. Any agricultural ingredients in feed additives or supplements, such as grains or molasses, must be organic. Feed additives and supplements may not contain genetically modified organisms or mammalian or poultry slaughter byproducts. All feed additives and... Read more »

Yes, you are required by USDA organic requirements to report all materials you use, including fertilizers, pest control materials, processing aids, livestock health care materials, and other materials. We have made it easy for you to view the materials we have approved for your operation by listing them on your Organic System Plan (OSP) Materials List.   You can view and print your OSP Materials... Read more »

Yes, transplants must be from certified organic sources. Growers must maintain certificates and invoices showing all annual transplants are certified organic. There are two situations in which transplants may come from nonorganic sources: Non-organically produced annual seedlings may be used to produce an organic crop when a temporary variance has been granted in accordance with 205.290(a)(2);... Read more »

No, retail stores are not required to be certified. But they can choose to be in order to provide assurance to customers and go the extra mile to ensure that organic product integrity is maintained. Retail food establishments (retailers) do not need to be certified in order to sell organic agricultural products. However, they are responsible for verifying and maintaining the organic integrity of... Read more »

Yes! We understand that you may be pressed for time or require certification of a facility or acreage by a certain deadline. In these cases, we are pleased to pull out all the stops and provide expedited services that meet your deadline. Please consider our Expedited Certification Program application if you need to be... Read more »

Yes, the CCOF Certified Transitional program is for growers who are transitioning their crops and/or land from non-organic to organic. An operation or parcel must be inspected and demonstrate compliance with all certified organic production requirements, except the three-year transition time, to become CCOF Certified Transitional.... Read more »

Yes, CCOF offers two programs designed to verify your compliance with a variety of international standards, including those for EU member states, Japan, Switzerland, Canada, and others. Which program you should enroll in depends on which markets you are shipping to, and whether your product is shipped from the US or... Read more »

Yes. The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 requires certification agencies to perform residue testing of organic product. Such testing acts as a deterrent to fraud and helps to prove to organic customers that the standards are upheld and that organic really does mean something. CCOF is granted the authority to collect samples for testing by the National Organic Program regulations section 205.... Read more »

Yes. CCOF is required to conduct unannounced inspections by our accreditors, USDA ISO-65 and USDA NOP. Unannounced inspections encourage all certified clients to comply with the regulations. It shows that certified producers and processors are doing their best to comply with the regulations and willing to prove it. It proves to organic customers that the standards are upheld and that organic... Read more »

Yes! MyCCOF is the first of its kind online organic certification management system. MyCCOF is free for all clients and provides access to records, bills, inspection reports, certificates, and more. Our website also offers a wealth of forms, payment options, and other tools to... Read more »

Like other non-GMO verification programs, non-GMO does not mean GMO-free. The phrase “non-GMO” on certified organic products means that, as required by organic standards, the product was produced without the use of GMOs. Read more »

No! Use of this optional seal is included with the standard cost of organic certification. Read more »

The National Organic Program has always allowed organic certification of hydroponic and container-based system. CCOF Certification Services (CCOF CS) has been certifying some form of substrate systems for decades. Container-based production for some crops like berries and tomatoes is growing in popularity in arid regions of California and Mexico because these systems have water-saving and... Read more »

Currently there is no federal regulation for organic cosmetics. If you would like to claim that your product is “certified organic” it must meet the same requirements as organic food, including the restrictions on non-organic ingredients and labeling. There have been several private and... Read more »

Use MyCCOF Action Item Tracker to check the status of your updates and responses to CCOF.Log in to MyCCOF and go to the Action Item Tracker tab.You are taken to the “My Action Items” sub-tab, where you can view your action items from CCOF.Go to the second sub-tab, “All Action Items”, to view the items you’ve sent to CCOF and items you’ve responded to.Find the action item... Read more »

The onsite inspection is an integral part of organic certification. The inspector bills CCOF for the time and expenses of each inspection and CCOF in turn bills the inspected party. The costs of inspections vary widely. Usually, the major cost factor is the scope and complexity of an operation. Other factors may include the producer's knowledge of applicable organic standards, previous issues,... Read more »

You may only use products that are certified organic, OMRI or WSDA-listed, or approved by CCOF. If you wish to use any product that is not certified organic or OMRI or WSDA approved, you must receive CCOF approval prior to use. You should always ensure that your approved list of materials, also known as your Organic System Plan (OSP) Materials List, includes all products you use or plan to use.... Read more »

CCOF does not maintain a complete list of certified organic slaughter facilities. It is best to contact facilities directly to determine if they have a valid organic certificate. You can search for CCOF certified facilities by using CCOF’s online directory. Keep in mind that facilities certified by other organic certification agencies are not included in these results.... Read more »

The way you label your certified organic products will depend on the amount of organic ingredients in them. Most crops and single-ingredient products can be labeled “Organic” and use the USDA seal. If you are making a multi-ingredient product with some non-organic ingredients, you may be allowed to claim your product is “Made with Organic (specified ingredients).” Visit our... Read more »

If you are unable to log into your MyCCOF account, use the “Forgot Password?” link below the Log In area. This option will send a unique link to your email to allow you to reset your password. Please note, your browser may have saved the previous password you were using, in which case you will need to clear your browser cache and saved passwords once you have reset your password.... Read more »

Your inspector will probably focus on records from the past year, but records for five years should be accessible as well. Growers should prepare a copy of your Organic Farm Input Report (OFIR) to show all inputs going back to the last inspection. If there are many redundant input applications, you may prepare a summary OFIR that lists each material applied. Mixed operations (organic and non-... Read more »

Log in to MyCCOF to view your operation contact information. From within MyCCOF, navigate to the desired Company Record from the ‘Company Data List.’ Click on the name of the operations you wish to view contact information for. The ‘Company Data List’ will show all Operations that you are currently a contact for. From here you can choose which company record will automatically open when you sign... Read more »

Certified transitional products cannot be represented as organic. CCOF has developed a separate logo for transitional products; only CCOF Certified Transitional operations may use this. Product sold as CCOF Certified Transitional must include the statement "CCOF Certified Transitional" on product labeling. An operation may... Read more »

To add a crop to your Organic System Plan (OSP) and Client Profile send the following to parcel number where the crop is grown or planned to be grownThe cropThe crop acreageIf you would like to submit more than one crop at once, use the Crop Update Form. You may include all crop... Read more »

Use the Handler OSP Update Guide to ensure you submit all forms. To add a new product that you manufacture to your Organic System Plan (OSP) and organic certificate, send the following to labels for the productProduct Application... Read more »

CCOF wants to help you address marketplace problems and complaints. Under the National Organic Program, all products marketed as organic must be certified. If you witness organic products being mislabeled or fraudulently identified, you are highly encouraged to report the problem. Reporting is the best way to stop fraudulent practices. View the... Read more »

CCOF certification offers comprehensive services at a minimal cost to our clients. We understand that keeping certification costs down is important to our clients. The following tips are great ways to save time and money: Have your paperwork organized and prepared for your annual inspections. Respond to CCOF Request for Information letters in a timely manner to avoid noncompliance fees. Pay... Read more »

The National Organic Program (NOP) outlines a specific order of pest control methods in areas where organic products are processed, handled, or stored.First use preventative measures, such as good sanitation, then mechanical measures, such as mechanical, sticky, or pheromone traps.If preventative and mechanical measures do not adequately control pests, you may use NOP allowed materials from the... Read more »

As an Accredited Certification Agency (ACA), CCOF cannot provide consulting assistance for organic certification issues. However, as a service to our members and others, CCOF maintains a list of organic consultants who are available to assist with certification and regulatory compliance issues. The list... Read more »

Log in to MyCCOF to access your Inspection Report. From within MyCCOF, click on the ‘Inspection Status’ tab to see all current and past inspections for your operation. To get a copy of your Inspection report, click on the inspection you wish to view in the grid to highlight it. Scroll to the bottom of the page. Click the ‘Documents’ tab (pictured below). Here you can view and download a PDF of... Read more »

Log in to MyCCOF to view all letters from the CCOF office. From within MyCCOF, navigate to the ‘Documents’ tab. Here you can view outgoing correspondence from CCOF regarding your Operation. The “Date” column will match the date on a specific letter. The “Subject” column will tell you the type of correspondence. To access a copy of a letter click on the ‘File Name’ of the correspondence and... Read more »

Log in to MyCCOF to access information for your upcoming inspection. From within MyCCOF, navigate to the “Inspection Status” tab. Here you can view all past and present inspections for your operation, as well as the Season, Inspection Type, and Inspector. To locate Inspector Contact information click on the icon next to the Inspector name (pictured below). A window will appear with the contact... Read more »

Log in to MyCCOF to instantly download copies of your organic certificates. From within MyCCOF, click on the ‘Certificates’ tab. Here you will be able to view, download, and print copies of your Certificates and Client Profiles.  The ‘Description’ column will tell you the Certificate type. The ‘Year’ column will tell you which year the Certificate was issued. The Certificates located in this tab... Read more »

In the simplest terms, certification involves an application, review, inspection, compliance with any standards issues, and, finally, certification. The detailed steps to organic certification are outlined for you. How the process works: In your application, called an Organic System Plan (OSP), you explain what you do, how you do it, and what you use to do it.... Read more »

A CCOF Certification Specialist will review the inspection report for compliance with the standards. The review will likely be completed within 1-3 months after your inspection (or within 5 business days for Expedited inspections, or 30 days for priority inspection such as New Applications). Once the review is complete, CCOF will send you a Compliance Report with the results, along with a new... Read more »

Most materials containing inert ingredients do not specify which list these ingredients are on. Organic production allows only EPA List 4 synthetic inerts in pesticides. Verification from the manufacturer that synthetic inert ingredients, contained in pesticides, are on List 4 is needed to demonstrate compliance. Often times manufacturers are unwilling to disclose the identity of inerts, but may... Read more »

Certificates may only be issued by certifiers that have been accredited by the USDA. To verify if your supplier is certified by an USDA accredited certifier, see the list of accredited certifiers on the... Read more »

There are 2 ways to log in to MyCCOF to access your certification information. Visit the CCOF homepage and click on the ‘My Account’ tab at the top. From there you can log in to MyCCOF. Navigate to the MyCCOF website Read more »

Please submit all required documents via email to, fax to (831) 423-4528, or by mail to the CCOF home address.For processors and handlers use the Handler OSP Update Guide to ensure you submit all forms.Once the request is received an ‘Action Item’ will be made which you can track in your MyCCOF... Read more »

Log in to MyCCOF to update your operation contacts and their contact information. From within MyCCOF, click the ‘Client Update’ button in the ‘Contacts’ tab.  Click the 'Client Update' button (pictured below). This will open a CCOF Client Update PDF that you can save to your computer. 
Use the PDF to update contact information, including adding a contact, changing contacts, sales and...
Read more »

Before making any changes to your operation, you must update your OSP. For processors and Handlers, use the Handler OSP Update Guide to ensure you submit all forms. Visit our Forms and Documents page to find the forms that you need to update. Submit your... Read more »

The purpose of an organic inspection is to confirm that your operation meets the NOP standards and regulations both before it is certified and every year after as long as it remains certified. Inspectors do this by confirming that what you say in your application, called an Organic System Plan (OSP), is what you are doing in practice.An excellent, low-cost resource titled Preparing for Organic... Read more »

Water and salt are excluded when calculating the organic percentage of a product. Use our helpful H2.0B Product Formulation worksheet to help you calculate the organic percentage of finished products. This worksheet will also help you if some of your product is not composed entirely of organic ingredients. Read more »

Livestock health care is largely based on preventive practices such as balanced nutrition and reduction of stress through exercise, freedom of movement, and appropriate housing. Vaccines and other veterinary biologics are allowed, as well as herbal preparations, and a... Read more »

Once updates have been submitted you can track your update using MyCCOFWe work to respond to the following in 1-2 weeks:Updated labels for existing productsAdding new acreage (subsequent inspection required)New inputs (fertilizer, pest control, sanitizers, etc.)For other updates, such as the... Read more »

A CCOF Certification Specialist will review the inspection report for compliance with the standards. The review will likely be completed within 1-3 months after your inspection (or within 5 business days for Expedited inspections, or 30 days for priority inspection such as New Applications). Please remember that we can provide a copy of your certificate at any time, or you can download a copy... Read more »

Certification typically requires up to 12 weeks; less for special cases. We generally recommend that you begin the process at least 90 days before harvest or launch of your organic line.The length of time depends on a number of factors:How complete the application is when submittedThe complexity of your operationHow quickly you respond to any requests for information that arise during the review... Read more »

Animals must be allowed to graze whenever pasture is available. Local geography and climate will determine the number of days that pasture is actually available in a given area, but organic ruminants must graze for at least 120 days per year. Oftentimes organic animals will graze 365 days per year. If irrigation water is available to your operation, it must be used to extend the length of the... Read more »

CCOF certification is priced to provide superior value and to allow new farms, processors, and other businesses to easily enter the organic marketplace. Ongoing certification costs are based on an annual fee and the cost of the annual inspection. There is also a one-time, non-refundable application fee. Small farms and processors are routinely certified for between $600 and $1,800. Please... Read more »

CCOF offers inspection preparation letters for each operation type. You can prepare for your inspection by reviewing the appropriate pre-inspection letter that applies to your operation. Ask the inspector what they want to see, who they want to talk to, and what records and copies to have ready. Line up people and inspection sites. Determine... Read more »

Log in to MyCCOF and go to ‘Company Data List.’ The ‘Company Data List’ will show all operations that you are currently a contact for. To access the information for a specific account, click on the name or the person symbol in the contact type column (pictured below). You will be brought to the home screen for the operation selected and will have access to all information connected to that... Read more »

To simplify the process and organize requests of this type, CCOF requires that you provide a completed External Client Inquiry Form to CCOF; submit it to or via fax: (831) 423-4528. Read more »

If you broker but do not process, repack, or relabel products, we understand that you may add new suppliers and new products frequently. You must send an updated H2.6 Broker Suppliers list to quarterly, at a minimum. You can also send new suppliers or products to us at any time. Highlight all new... Read more »

Yes, as long as you use inputs, such as potting soil, pesticides and fertilizers, allowed under organic standards.  Treated wood is not allowed in contact with plants or soil. Read more »

Yes you can. You will need to maintain the organic integrity of the ingredients and products by preventing commingling and contamination of organic products with any prohibited materials, such as sanitizers, pesticides, and non-organic products or ingredients. Additionally, you will need to clearly distinguish organic products from non-organic products to provide accurate information to your... Read more »

Yes, restaurants are considered retail food establishments and are excluded from certification, but can identify products on their menus as organic without certification. Restaurants must prevent commingling or contamination of organic product/ingredients with prohibited materials, such as sanitizers, pest control materials, and non-organic ingredients. Additionally, restaurants need to comply... Read more »

You must protect organic integrity during receiving, storage, processing, packaging, and transportation. Many certified operations process both organic and non-organic products without any difficulty. These operations are referred to as “mixed” operations. Mixed operations are responsible for protecting organic ingredients and products throughout production. This is done by preventing commingling... Read more »

Yes. To be eligible for the CCOF Certified Transitional program you must submit an application, including completing an Organic System Plan (OSP), and undergo the annual inspection and review process. Read more »

When displaying bulk products that are certified "100% organic" or "organic" food in self-service bins or creating other product displays, you may post signs that provide the same information as listed on the original container or shipping documents. For example, your display, labeling, and display containers may use the USDA “organic” seal and the certifying agent’s mark, logo, or seal. Read more »

Yes, send all new or revised labels to CCOF for review and approval, even if you think the change does not affect your organic certification. Having your label reviewed by CCOF protects you from making costly mistakes. All labels must be included in your Organic System Plan, including a label redesign for an existing product, a new size of packaging for an existing product, labels for new... Read more »

Operations who enroll with CCOF during their transition will automatically become CCOF members. Our certified clients and members receive many benefits of being part of the CCOF membership, including advocacy, education, marketing support, and networking opportunities linked to our regional- and industry-based chapters. Read more »

No, products that restrict organic claims to the ingredient listing only are exempt from the requirements of certification. However, the manufacturer needs to maintain documentation that the organic ingredients identified are organic and certified according to the regulations. Manufacturers should request and maintain on file current copies of organic certificates for each organic ingredient.... Read more »

No, it is possible to manage a “split” operation, meaning that some animals are managed organically while others are not. It is important to make sure that the organic animals are easily identifiable, organic feeds are not commingled with non-organic feeds, and that you keep records of all farm activities, including both the organic and non-organic portions. Inspections for split operations tend... Read more »

No. The CCOF Certified Transitional program certifies operations in transition to compliance with the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) standards, but who have not yet reached the three-year transition without prohibited materials. Read more »

Yes! We are proud to announce that CCOF is accredited to provide GLOBALG.A.P. certifications. Visit our Food Safty Services Page for additional information about CCOF's GLOBALG.A.P. certification and how to apply! Read more »

On-farm slaughter activities can be included as part of your Organic System Plan. CCOF will review your slaughter practices, including animal handling practices, and inspect this portion of your operation annually. In some cases, your operation may be required to comply with additional USDA requirements for slaughter operations. You will need to contact the USDA for more information. If you wish... Read more »

In July 2018, CCOF, Stellar and Demeter announced a partnership to allow organic operations certified by Stellar Certification Services to easily transition their certification to CCOF Certification Services, LLC. On July 31, 2018, Stellar Certification Services ceased to certify organic operations. Stellar is the organic certification sister... Read more »

Under the National Organic Program standards you may not withhold treatment from a sick animal in order to preserve its organic status. Any and all treatments, including antibiotics, must be used to return an animal to health, and all medical treatments must be recorded. Read more »

Yes! Always submit changes that may affect compliance to CCOF for review. Changes to your facility location may require an update to your OSP and an additional inspection.If your address is changing because your office or billing location has changed, simply complete the Equipment, Facility or Address Change Form and confirm that... Read more »

Yes! We maintain a list of organic consultants and organic agricultural advisors who are available to assist with certification and regulatory compliance issues. We understand that choosing materials appropriate for your specific situation can be challenging. Our staff is available to verify if a specific material is compliant; however,... Read more »

If you buy product from a small-scale organic producer who is exempt from certification, you may identify this product as "organic." But you may not identify this product as being "certified organic" and you may not display the seal, logo, or other identifying mark of a certifying agent; nor may you display the USDA “organic” seal in conjunction with this product. Read more »

Organic seed and planting stock must be used unless organic versions are not commercially available, with the exception that organic seed must always be used for production of edible sprouts. Commercial Availability is defined by the NOP as the ability to obtain a production input in an appropriate form, quality, or quantity to fulfill an essential function in a system of organic production or... Read more »

Export and transaction certificates are used for exported products to demonstrate the product's compliance with the applicable standards of the destination country. The certificates contain transaction-specific details, such as the lot number(s), net weight, and the unique serial number that the certifier issues for each export certificate. Your importer or consignee will require an original... Read more »

Fillable forms are versions of frequently used and/or modified documents that are available in electronic format for easy editing. Each form is a Microsoft word document formatted and locked to allow you to easily enter your data. Available forms include material review requests, annual certification contracts, parcel transfer, withdrawal and additional acreage documents. For processors,... Read more »

GLOBALG.A.P. has different programs to meet the needs of different buyers. Be sure to talk to your buyers to determine which program level you need! Food Safety Certifications and Assessments: IFA: Integrated Farm Assurance – GFSI benchmarked certification. Top-level program. Important for exports. Includes food safety, traceability, environmental welfare, and worker welfare. PSS: Produce Safety... Read more »

The main benefit of organic certification for retail food stores is bringing confidence to consumers that the organic integrity of the products they buy extend from the seeds used to grow their food to their shopping basket. Consumers want to know the store where they shop cares enough to go the extra mile to provide them that assurance of organic integrity.... Read more »

The land requirements for wild crops are the same as managed crops. Verification that the land has been free from prohibited substances for a period of three years prior to harvest of the wild crop is required. The OSP section, Grower Application - Parcel Informtion, covers the land use history requirements and the documentation needed for verification. Read more »

Under the NOP there are specific requirements for the use of raw manure. Raw animal manure must be composted unless it is: Applied to land used for a crop not intended for human consumption. Incorporated into the soil no less than 120 days prior to the harvest of a product whose edible portion has direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles (such as lettuce). Incorporated into the... Read more »

Ruminant animals are required to graze pasture anytime during the year that pasture is available for grazing. If pasture is not available for at least 120 days per year, the ruminants cannot be certified organic. Organic standards also require that animals obtain a certain percentage of their daily diet, or ration, from pasture. Grazing must provide at least 30% of an organic ruminant’s total dry... Read more »

The NOP regulations do not have specific prescriptive requirements regarding distance for buffering your organic crop from potential contaminants. Prior to implementation of the NOP, 25 feet was used as a baseline for appropriate buffers. CCOF still uses this as a threshold of concern to guide our decision making process along with other mitigating factors such as physical barriers and... Read more »

CCOF cannot recommend any specific cleaners or sanitizers. Processors/handlers are permitted to use any sanitizer allowed for cleaning food contact surfaces as long as the sanitizer does not leave a residue and does not come in contact with organic products. Sanitizers that contact organic products must be on the National List (205.605). ... Read more »

Use the Handler OSP Update Guide to ensure you submit all forms.I am a CCOF certified private label owner having my products made at a CCOF certified co-packing facility:I am a CCOF certified private label owner having my products made at a co-packing facility certified by another certifier:I am a CCOF certified private label owner but I don’t... Read more »

I process products for a CCOF certified private label owner:I process products for an uncertified private label owner:I process products for a private label owner who is certified by another certifier:Submit the Product Application.* A one-time fee will apply.Submit the Product Application. A one-time fee... Read more »

An operation or parcel is eligible for the CCOF Certified Transitional program if it is free of prohibited materials for one year and complies with all organic production requirements, but has not yet reached the three-year transition without prohibited materials. Read more »

CCOF believes in being responsive and service oriented, We encourage clients to engage in open dialogue regarding organic certification issues because your complete satisfaction is our goal. CCOF wants to provide options should you disagree with a CCOF policy, service issue, or certification decision that relates to your business.In these cases you are encouraged to contact the CCOF chief... Read more »

Navigate to the MyCCOF login page and click the ‘Forgot your password?’ underneath the login area. Enter your email. If the entered data matches with an existing account, you will get an email with your username and password. For additional help email or call (831) 423-2263. Read more »

U.S. farmers and ranchers, agricultural educators, and farmer-assistance organizations can get answers about specific farming practices from ATTRA. Ask an expert. Need outside help? CCOF cannot actively consult with our clients regarding organic certification compliance. We do offer a list of organic... Read more »

Many operations assume that if they pay their fees they are not required to complete the Annual Renewal Contract. This is not the case! Organic regulations require that all operations pay annual certification fees, and complete a continuation of certification contract (CCOF's Annual Renewal Contract) every year. Failure to complete the contract will result in suspension of certification. When an... Read more »

No problem! CCOF staff are happy to assist currently certified operations tranfersing their certification to CCOF. We also offer a fee waiver for the one-time application fee.To receive the fee waiver, complete the Certification Transfer Form and submit it to CCOF with your application and valid certificate from your current... Read more »

Growers whose seed or planting stock is determined by a third party must be able to demonstrate that the third party complies, on behalf of the grower, with the commercial availability requirement for seed or planting stock. CCOF must be able to verify that a commercial availability search was conducted for all non-organic seed or planting stock. If a buyer, seed distributor, or other third party... Read more »

“CN” means “combined nomenclature.” A CN code is a customs/tariff designation required in box 13 of export certificates for the EU. CN codes are published in the Official Journal of the European Union. Disclaimer: While CCOF can assist in determining CN codes, the accuracy of CN codes... Read more »

Most people think of hydroponic as an indoor system where roots are suspended in water. However, these systems are rare in organic production. Most systems broadly referred to as hydroponic use substrate and the majority operate with natural light. The NOP does not define hydroponic versus other types of container systems, so CCOF Certification Services broadly uses the term “container-based... Read more »

A lot number is a tracking system that links the organic product back to the farmer or incoming ingredient. The lot numbering system provides critical information regarding the origin of the products being used by processors/handlers, especially in the age of increased food safety requirements. Both incoming and outgoing products should include lot numbers to allow both recall and ingredient... Read more »

A wild crop is a plant or portion of a plant that is collected or harvested from a site that is not maintained under cultivation or other agricultural management. This means that in order for a crop to be considered wild it cannot be watered, fed, or otherwise managed. In order to certify a wild crop as organic it must be harvested in a manner that ensures that such harvesting or gathering will... Read more »

The best way to imagine an audit trail is to think of a food safety product recall. If you found out that a specific lot of an organic ingredient was contaminated, you would use your recordkeeping system to determine which final batches of product that ingredient went into. An audit trail is the collection of documents that would allow you to do that. “Audit trail” includes all records of... Read more »

Dry matter is what remains after all of the water is evaporated out of a feed: grain and fresh or dried forages. Fresh pasture has high water content and will have a lower percentage of dry matter than an equivalent weight of dryer feed, such as hay or grain. Dry matter is an indicator of the amount of nutrients that are available to the animal in a particular feed.Livestock need to consume a... Read more »

MyCCOF, our client-wide online organic certification management tool, makes certification easier for you. With MyCCOF you can easily monitor your certification and renewals, access key documents, and track the inspection and certification process. Plus, pay bills, track your CCOF-certified suppliers, and search and add materials to your Organic System Plan (... Read more »

The National List is the list of non-organic materials you are allowed to use as ingredients, additives, or processing aids in your organic products. For processors this includes materials such as yeast, citric acid, baking soda, diatomaceous earth, and others. Only non-organic ingredients and processing aids included on the National List may be used in and on your products. CCOF must approve the... Read more »

CCOF Certified Transitional program fees follow the CCOF fee schedule. Determine the annual value of what you produce (annual production value or APV), cut that by 50%, and then find the appropriate level on our fee schedule. The maximum annual certification fee... Read more »

Transitioned animals are dairy animals that were “transitioned” to organic status through one year of organic management. This method of transitioning animals is only allowed for new dairy operations, and is a one-time allowance. Animals that were transitioned to organic may never be sold as organic slaughter stock, nor used as replacement animals by existing organic operations. Animals that are... Read more »

The organic certification application is called an Organic System Plan (OSP). A complete OSP is required by the National Organic Program (NOP). The OSP is a detailed description of the practices and procedures used by your operation to produce organic goods. Operations must update their OSP as changes occur.CCOF has developed a straightforward, comprehensive OSP as part of our organic... Read more »

CCOF Organic Certification Renewal occurs every year in January. Clients are sent an Annual Renewal Contract and an invoice for the annual certification program fees in November, which are both due January 1 of the following year. The Annual Certification Renewal Contract requires the following information to be submitted to CCOF: Updates on any pending requests for information or noncompliance... Read more »

We make it easy for our clients to find out if a farm input is allowed. You can use OMRI and WSDA listed products as long as applicable restrictions are followed. Do you want to use a material that is not listed by OMRI or WSDA? We will review any non-listed material. All you need to do is submit a... Read more »

Each organic ingredient must be identified as "Organic" on the ingredient statement of products labeled as "Organic," or "Made with Organic (specified ingredients)." The certifying agent must be identified by name ("California Certified Organic Farmers" or “CCOF”) on the information panel, beneath the name of the handler or distributor, and preceded by the statement, "Certified organic by...", or... Read more »

Products labeled “Made with organic…” may contain up to 30% non-organic ingredients. Non-organic ingredients must either be agricultural or on section 205.605 of the National List. Any nonagricultural ingredient or processing aid that does not appear on section 205.605 is prohibited in all organic products, including those labeled as “Made... Read more »

The National List is the definitive source for allowed materials. However, several agencies and organizations create comprehensive lists of brand name products and ingredients that may be used in organic processing. Among them are the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) and the... Read more »

Organic operations must keep records of all activities and transactions. Such records may include: Input Records: Planting of seeds and applications of fertilizers or other materials must be documented. Animal Origin or Birth Records: Birth records must link organic calves to breeder stock and include birth dates or approximate birth dates. Medical Treatment Records: Treatments must be recorded... Read more »

Recordkeeping and organization are important aspects of certification, so we've created helpful documents and sample forms to assist our clients with these challenges. Our Organic Farm Certification Support Package and... Read more »

Although retailers are exempt from the requirement of being certified, they must still keep sufficient records demonstrating compliance to the standards. Records should include date of purchase, source, quantities, and organic certificates listing the specifics for organic products you purchase. Records should also include documentation of methods used for prevention of commingling and contact... Read more »

CCOF is proud to offer a variety of certifications and verifications to our clients, including USDA National Organic Program (NOP) (7 CFR Part 205) certification for growers, livestock, handler/processors, retailers, etc. CCOF also provides certification to the Canadian Organic Regime (COR) standards for operations located in Canada, and international market verification and certification for... Read more »

An amendment to an existing registration is required when an operation has one or more of the following changes to their registration: Addition of new facilities or growing locations in California Change of ownership Addition of production acreage A  change/addition of operation type(s). A registrant shall notify the Department of any change in the information reported on the registration form... Read more »

This list details the most common situations that require you organic processors or handlers to send information or documentation to CCOF, and what type of information you'll need to send. Read through this list and contact your Certification Service Specialist with additional questions. Use the Handler OSP Update Guide to ensure you submit all... Read more »

Before the Inspection: Organic System Plan (OSP): This is the central document of organic certification. The OSP must be completed before the inspection. The inspector will compare your OSP with their observations, interview, and audit of records. An excellent OSP includes all applicable sections and thoroughly answered questions, with all required attachments (labels, parcel maps, land history... Read more »

The Global Food Safety Initiative is an international nonprofit umbrella organization that “benchmarks” (deems equivalent) food safety standards. Retailers or buyers that require food safety certification from their suppliers generally require that the certification standard be GFSI benchmarked. The CCOF GLOBALG.A.P. program offers GFSI-... Read more »

GLOBALG.A.P. is a stakeholder-driven nonprofit organization based in Germany that sets food safety standards for farmers. There are over 120,000 farms worldwide certified to GLOBALG.A.P. standards. Read more »

Any time you are considering a change to your organic production, you must update your Organic System Plan before making any changes and submit the update to for review. Updating your OSP before making changes helps your operation avoid a Notice of Noncompliance and possible... Read more »

Potting soil, soil amendments, fertilizers, and pesticides/herbicides are not certified organic. These types of products are “approved for organic production” by agencies like the Organic Materials Review Institute or Washington State Department of Agriculture, who certify products to be... Read more »

All CCOF forms and documents can be found on our Forms & Documents page. Search for the form by name or review the topic list in the sidebar. Ensure that you have selected the form for the correct location, language, and operation type. Some CCOF forms are specific to operations in Canada or are available in Spanish. Forms may be available in PDF, Word, or Excel... Read more »

Looking for organic ingredients? You can find the products produced and processed by CCOF members in our searchable online Organic Directory.The following resources will help guide you in finding other sources of organic ingredients, growers, and manufacturers as well as organic suitable ingredients.... Read more »

The National Organic Standards delineate the requirements for certifying livestock, beginning at section 205.236. CCOF also provides links to a variety of information sources on our certification Support Resources page. Read more »

Log in to MyCCOF to view your authorized contacts for your operation. From within MyCCOF, navigate to the ‘Contacts’ tab. Under the title ‘Has these Certification Contacts’ you can view the listed contacts for your operation as well as their individual information (phone, fax, email). Contacts designated with a red shirt in the ‘Contact type’ column indicate this person is the Main Contact for... Read more »

Visit our Organic Seed and Planting Stock Resources page for details on seed and planting stock requirements, and our list of organic seed and planting suppliers.Your diligence in sourcing organic seed and... Read more »

Crops intended for human consumption and whose edible portion has direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles require a 120 day pre-harvest interval (PHI). A 90 day PHI is required for those crops whose edible portion does not come in contact with soil particles (i.e. orchard fruit). How the crop is grown and harvested with regards to soil contact will determine which pre-harvest... Read more »

The following individuals and businesses operating in the state of California must annually register with the State Organic Program:Every person engaged in the production, handling, or processing of raw agricultural products sold as organicRetailers that are engaged in the production of products sold as organicRetailers that are engaged in the processing, as defined by the NOP, of products sold... Read more »

Organic inspections confirm that your operation meets the NOP standards and regulations both before you are certified and every year after for as long as you remain certified. Inspectors do this by confirming that what you say in your application, called an Organic System Plan (OSP), is what you are doing in practice. A CCOF-qualified inspector will conduct the inspection in an efficient manner... Read more »

Many farmers and processors are already being asked to be certified to one of the existing third party food safety standards by retail buyers like Costco or Walmart. We anticipate that the implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules will mean more companies will be pursuing food safety assessment and/or certification. Even if law does not require it, assessment and/or... Read more »

There are dozens of reasons to choose CCOF for your organic certification. Learn why CCOF should be your choice for certification or browse our website for more information. Read more »

Becoming familiar with the organic regulations and the certification process can be challenging and stressful. Enrolling with CCOF as you work your land through transition can give you peace of mind, knowing that your practices are already verified as compliant with the organic regulations. When your land is finally... Read more »

Because your buyer requires you to have GFSI-benchmarked food safety certification for some or all of your organic crops. CCOF is one of the most trusted names in certification, with over 40 years of commitment to the organic farming community. We seek to provide a cost effective program that will allow organic farmers to succeed as food safety certification becomes increasingly required by the... Read more »