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:: Organic Certification 
providing organic certification consulting, training and documentation services for organizations across the world.
 
Organic certification is a certification process for producers of organic food and other organic agricultural products. In general, any business directly involved in food production can be certified, including seed suppliers, farmers, food processors, retailers and restaurants.
Requirements vary from country to country, and generally involve a set of production standards for growing, storage, processing, packaging and shipping that include:
  1. avoidance of most synthetic chemical inputs (e.g. fertilizer, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives, etc), genetically modified organisms, irradiation, and the use of sewage sludge;
  2. use of farmland that has been free from chemicals for a number of years (often, three or more);
  3. keeping detailed written production and sales records (audit trail);
  4. maintaining strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products; 
    undergoing periodic on-site inspections.
In some countries, certification is overseen by the government, and commercial use of the term organic is legally restricted. Certified organic producers are also subject to the same agricultural, food safety and other government regulations that apply to non-certified producers.
 
Purposes and Benefits of the Organic Inspection
The organic inspection doesn't need to be scary, stressful, or onerous. The inspection process can be useful to producers of crops or livestock, and processors or handlers of agricultural products. The organic inspection is a unique opportunity because it involves the most face-to-face contact between the producer or handler and an inspector who works for the certifier.
Organic certifiers conduct annual inspections of all their clients (certified parties) to verify, through on-site review of actual activities and the corresponding records, that the clients are in compliance with the relevant organic standards. Every USDA-accredited certification agency must make annual inspections. Most inspections are scheduled with the client in advance; however, some inspections are unannounced.
 
This publication will help you incorporate management practices that will keep you prepared for an inspection at any moment. Benefits of the inspection process for organic certification include the following.
  1. Building consumer confidence in the meaning of the organic label
  2. Fulfilling requirements to get or maintain organic certification
  3. Improving farm record-keeping systems and keeping up-to-date records
  4. Providing an opportunity to better understand organic standards
  5. Getting updated information about allowed and prohibited materials
  6. Learning about public educational opportunities or sources of information and technical assistance available through your certifier, Cooperative Extension, local farm organizations, or industry networks. (Please note that this is not part of the inspection, but an incidental benefit. The role of the inspector is discussed below.)
The steps that help you prepare for your inspection for organic certification will also help you maintain healthy farming systems and viable business practices.
 
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