More tips on becoming certified organic

This is the second part of an article by Hugh Martin, Organic Production Program Lead, OMAFRA explaining the process of becoming a certified organic producer:
Understand the time period required to operate as organic before you can become certified (for crops, it is 36 months prior to the sale of the organic products).
Also understand at what stage you need to apply for transitional inspection (for crop producers, this is in the year prior to becoming organic).
Compare CBs and select the CB you want to work with. Get the necessary application forms, and other details and updates.
Apply for inspection for transition (fee payment). The operator must be registered with a CB at least 12 months before the harvest of the organic crops.
Your application is reviewed by the CB, who appoints an organic inspector to attend the farm and to do inspection while the product is being produced. Prior to the inspection, the producer needs to make sure they have all of their paperwork in order for the inspection.
Once the inspector’s report is reviewed by the CB, the CB notifies the applicant of the decision.
In the following year, the producer applies to become certified organic, an inspector is appointed by the CB, who inspects the farm or production facility. The CB then reviews the report and notifies the applicant of the decision on their certification status.
Annual certification application (fees payment), inspection, certification status review follows (for most farms, applications are made in early spring).
You then can sell your certified organic products.
Be sure to regularly (at least annually) review any changes to certification requirements and other production practices to improve your food production business.
Note that you should not start the transition to becoming organic until you understand the details of the standards and requirements of the certification body.
During the transition period, your operation will have to operate to the requirements of the organic system but since it is not considered organic, there is not usually a price premium. This can create financial hardship and must be managed.
A staged transition to organic often is preferable depending on your farm situation. With food processing and new building structures, transition details should be discussed with the CB for specifics on your particular situation.
Livestock generally has to be fed 100 percent organic feed for one year prior to being certified (which may lengthen the transition period), but this will vary with the species. Again, discuss your particular details with the CB.
The road to “certified organic” will be interesting and you can expect some “potholes,” but most producers will find it rewards you with a better business and more opportunities.

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