Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) is a USDA-accredited certifying agent for organic crop production and organic handling/processing.
Organic is a labeling term for food or other agricultural products that have been produced using cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity in accordance with the USDA organic regulations. This means that organic operations must maintain or enhance soil and water quality, while also conserving wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.
Any operation, or portion of operation, that produces or handles crops, livestock, livestock products, or other agricultural products that are intended to be sold, labeled, or represented as “100 percent organic,” “organic,” or “made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s))” must be certified organic by a USDA-accredited certifying agent.
Certain operations are exempt or excluded from needing certification in order to make an organic claim:
- Operations that sell less than $5,000 worth of organic products annually
Retail food establishments
- Processors that produce products with less than 70% organic ingredients
Processors that produce products that limit their organic claims to the information panel, or ingredient statement, of the label
Handlers that only handle packaged organic products (e.g. brokers, cold storage warehouses, grocery distributors)
Steps to certification
- Read the most recent version of the NOP standards.
- Submit completed application forms and applicable fees to ODA (by February 1 each year for renewing applicants).
- ODA will review your application to determine compliance to the NOP standards and provide an estimate of your certification costs for the year.
- ODA will schedule an on-site inspection of your operation.
- ODA will conduct a final review of your application and inspection materials to complete the certification process.
What are the application forms for a crop growing operation?
What are the application forms for a handling/processing operation?
The Certification Fee Schedule outlines the different costs associated with certification. All fees are nonrefundable, including the cost of services performed before and up to the date an application is withdrawn or certification is surrendered. Applicants may withdraw their application at any time, via written notification to ODA. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for additional fee information.
Certified organic operations are inspected at least once a year. ODA may conduct additional inspections:
- To resolve an issue
- If a customer requests it
- As part of our surveillance program
These additional inspections are charged at the hourly rate described above.
Operations are required to notify their certifying agent if changes or events take place that may affect their compliance with the NOP standards. Examples of situations that would require you to notify ODA include the following:
- A prohibited substance is applied to any field, production unit, product, parcel, or site involved in organic production, whether directly or indirectly, intentionally, or unintentionally.
- You add acreage, a new field, a new greenhouse, a new product line, or a new production facility to your organic operation.
- You remove a field or production facility, or a portion thereof, from organic production.
- You develop a new retail label for your organic products.
- You process or handle new organic products, not already listed in your OSP.
This list is not exhaustive. If a change to your operation could potentially affect your compliance with the NOP standards, please contact ODA Certification Services at the phone number or email address listed above.
The Organic Insider
An email notification service from the USDA National Organic Program. NOP Organic Insider