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Long Live the Materials Evolution

by Jon Knapp |

Improvements for Materials Tracking and Approvals Continue: We have heard loud and clear that one of our clients’ biggest frustrations with the certification process is the paperwork surrounding input materials approval. In response, CCOF has been undergoing a materials evolution focused on making the process more efficient and less burdensome. We hope that you will find these changes to be positive, and welcome your feedback at any time!

As reported at the 2012 CCOF Annual Meeting, our staff has been hard at work improving how we communicate with you about your use of input materials (such as fertilizers, livestock medications, and processing aids) in organic production. The first phase of our system overhaul included generating a list of all input materials reviewed by CCOF, OMRI, or WSDA in our database (there are over 8,500!). We then entered all materials used by each client into the client’s record.

CCOF has revolutionized our approach to materials as part of a long-term project to continually improve our certification program. We are looking at how to move away from paper Organic System Plans (OSP) and towards new communication tools and systems that take advantage of modern technologies.

The newest phase gives you new access to your OSP Materials List online at MyCCOF in both a live and document format in order to reduce paperwork and inspection time.

Materials List Viewable Online: When you log in to MyCCOF, you can now see the “Inputs” tab where all materials that have been approved for your use by CCOF will be listed. This is your approved OSP Materials List! It is live and real time. Visit MyCCOF to sign up and access your records free of charge.

Organic System Plan Materials List Provided by CCOF: This revolutionary new document lists every material approved by CCOF for your use. At the end of the inspection cycle, when you receive notice of continued certification, CCOF will send you a copy of your OSP Materials List directly from our database. You are no longer required to handwrite updates regarding input materials on your paper OSP forms. Instead, the list will be verified at your inspection, updated whenever necessary, and always available in MyCCOF. We are happy to send you a current list at any time!

Contact your Regional Service Representative today to get a paper copy of your OSP Materials List. Whenever an OSP Materials List is generated for you, it will also be available as a file in MyCCOF.

Request Material Additions Quickly and Easily: The CCOF OSP Materials List can be used to add OMRI and WSDA listed materials to your OSP quickly and easily. Simply write the full name of the input material on the last page and send it to CCOF. If appropriate, we will update your OSP Materials List and send it back to you confirming the addition and your approval to use the material(s). You can also email, fax, or mail CCOF a request to add a material to this list at any time.

For materials that are not OMRI or WSDA listed you must submit a Material Review Request Form (MRRF). We process these as quickly as possible. If you are in need of an extremely quick response, you may select “Rush Review Service” on the form.

ALWAYS Seek Approval for Materials Prior to Use: CCOF can only approve the use of input materials in the context of your OSP. You must seek approval of materials prior to use. Use of materials, even OMRI and WSDA listed, without prior approval may result in a Notice of Noncompliance.

Seeking approval of materials prior to use keeps you fully compliant with NOP standards and ensures that you don’t lose your certification due to an unfortunate accident or mistake. Remember, if a material is not on your OSP Materials List, do not use it.

Inspection Systems: CCOF inspectors will no longer spend inspection time writing down all the names of the materials you are using. We will be providing a print out of your OSP Materials List as part of the inspection documents. This will allow our inspectors to focus on observing and documenting the actual practices of your operation. The changes will ensure that CCOF inspections are cost effective while directing the focus on review of organic standards.

Additionally, by removing redundant parts of our paper files, CCOF will be sending inspectors less paper. This will reduce waste and expense while helping to control certification costs, not to mention being more environmentally responsible!

Next Steps: the Materials Evolution Doesn’t Stop Here! These giant steps forward are only the beginning in our ongoing efforts to improve your access to information while making the certification process more efficient. As discussed in the fall 2011 Certification News, we remain dedicated to providing a unified materials list online that includes information about materials CCOF and other organizations have already reviewed.

Our intention is to combine this step with efficient electronic request systems so that your materials questions can be answered easily and your additions processed quickly. Stay tuned as we are not nearly done.