Certification is an independent and neutral third-party system of ensuring that certified parties adhere to a unified set of stringent production and handling standards backed by an audit trail through which a product can be traced from the field to the final consumer.
There are several basic steps in the certification process:
- Call a USDA accredited certifier* and receive application material.
- Review material and complete application, following the certifier's directions.
- Certification proposal based on application and supporting documentation is provided that outlines the requirements of certification, a time line and a cost estimate approval and payment.
- Inspection is done annually during the crop's growing season. The registered certifying agency will assign an inspector to come to your farm or processing facility and verify all organic related paperwork and organic practices (ex: rotation practices, pest management, erosion and segregation).
- A committee reviews all inspection materials. If everything is in compliance with the agency's policies and standards, and approval scoring is given.
- The client is then moved into the final certification process, which may include licensing and certificates.
Each certifying agency may have variations on these steps or additional steps in the process. Be aware of the fact that all certifiers have deadlines that need to be met. Contact the certifier of your choice for his/her information and deadlines.
All USDA Accredited Certifiers (listed here) are allowed to certify producers or processors in North Dakota. Please contact the certifying agency to determine if they provide services in your area. Buyers may require certification by a specific agency or may require additional certification to meet international standards.
A helpful online guide to farm certification can be found at the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA) web site.
*Certifiers currently offering services in the State of North Dakota
Global Organic Alliance, Inc.
PO Box 530
Bellefontaine OH 43311
Tel: (937) 593-1232
Fax: (937) 593-9507
International Certification Services, Inc. (ICS)
301 5th Ave. SE
Medina ND 58467
Tel: (701) 486-3578
Fax: (701) 486-3580
Minnesota Crop Improvement Association (MCIA)
1900 Hendon Ave
St. Paul, MN 55108
Montana Certified Organic
Montana Department of Agriculture
P.O. Box 200201
Helena, MT 59620-0201
260SW Madison Ave., Suite 106
Corvallis, OR 97333
Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA)
6400 Cornhusker Hwy.
Lincoln NE 68508-1172
Tel: (402) 477-2323
Fax (402) 477-4325
Quality Assurance International (QAI)
12526 High Bluff Drive, Suite 300
San Diego CA 92130
Tel: (858) 792-3531
Fax: (858) 792-8665
Stellar Certification Services (see Demeter certification)
P.O. Box 1390
Philomath, OR 97370
Contact: Jim Fullmer