FAQs by certification process

The following individuals and businesses operating in the state of California must annually register with the State Organic Program:

Every person engaged in the production, handling, or processing of raw agricultural products sold as organic Retailers that are engaged in the production of products sold as organic Retailers that are engaged in the processing, as defined by the NOP, of... Read more

No, retail stores are not required to be certified. But they can choose to be in order to provide assurance to customers and go the extra mile to ensure that organic product integrity is maintained.

Retail food establishments (retailers) do not need to be certified in order to sell organic agricultural products. However, they are responsible for verifying and maintaining the organic... Read more

CCOF certification offers comprehensive services at a minimal cost to our clients. We understand that keeping certification costs down is important to our clients. The following tips are great ways to save time and money:

Have your paperwork organized and prepared for your annual inspections. Respond to CCOF Request for Information letters in a timely manner to avoid noncompliance fees.... Read more

After your inspection CCOF will review the inspection report and respond to you as soon as possible. You will receive one of three review results:

Compliant: No further action is required as a result of this inspection
An updated certificate has been created and can be found online. You may have other outstanding items related to other inspections or processes. Visit your Action... Read more

Before making any changes to your operation, you must update your OSP. Visit our Forms and Documents page to find the forms that you need to update. Submit your fully completed forms to ccof@ccof.org. Please do not submit partially completed forms! Certification staff will review your updates and let you know if additional information is required. Please allow as much time as possible for... Read more

Once updates have been submitted it take an average of 7 days for CCOF to review the following highly time sensitive items:

New crop input materials (i.e. pest control, fertilizer, soil amendment, etc.) Updated labels for existing products Adding additional acreages (subsequent inspection required) Adding an additional facility or equipment (subsequent inspection required)

Once updates... Read more

On average, it takes 30 days from the date of inspection to respond to highly time sensitive inspections such as new production, land, or products, or major issues.

On average, it takes 60 days from the date of inspection to respond to regular annual inspections.

Please remember that we can provide a copy of your certificate at any time, or you can download a copy from MyCCOF;... Read more

Certification typically requires six to 10 weeks; less for special cases. We generally recommend that you begin the process at least 90 days before harvest or launch of your organic line.

The length of time depends on a number of factors:

How complete the application is when submitted The complexity of your operation How quickly you respond to any requests for information that arise... Read more

To simplify the process and organize requests of this type, CCOF requires that you provide a completed External Client Inquiry Form to CCOF; submit it to ccof@ccof.org or via fax: (831) 423-4528.

Yes! We maintain a list of organic consultants and organic agricultural advisors who are available to assist with certification and regulatory compliance issues. We understand that choosing materials appropriate for your specific situation can be challenging. Our staff is available to verify if a specific material is compliant; however, due to NOP regulations we are not allowed to make... Read more

CCOF believes in being responsive and service oriented, We encourage clients to engage in open dialogue regarding organic certification issues because your complete satisfaction is our goal. CCOF wants to provide options should you disagree with a CCOF policy, service issue, or certification decision that relates to your business.

In these cases you are encouraged to contact the CCOF... Read more

Many operations assume that if they pay their fees they are not required to complete the contract. This is not true. Organic regulations require that all operations complete a Continuation of Certification contract, so failure to complete it will result in suspension of certification. Operations that only pay their fees or only complete their contract will force us to issue a Notice of... Read more

No problem. CCOF will assist currently certified operations to recertify by waiving the one-time application fee.

To receive the fee waiver, complete the Certification Transfer Form and submit it to CCOF with your application and valid certificate from your current certifier. Contact us today to discuss your needs.

The best way to imagine an audit trail is to think of a food safety product recall. If you found out that a specific lot of an organic ingredient was contaminated, you would use your recordkeeping system to determine which final batches of product that ingredient went into. An audit trail is the collection of documents that would allow you to do that.

Your audit trail documents should... Read more

The certification application is called an Organic System Plan (OSP). A complete OSP is required by the National Organic Program (NOP). The OSP is a detailed description of the practices and procedures used by your operation to produce organic goods. Clients update their OSP as changes occur.

CCOF has developed a straightforward, comprehensive OSP as part of our organic certification... Read more

Renewal to the certification program happens in January, annually. Clients are sent a certification renewal contract and an invoice for annual fees in November which are due January 1.

The Annual Certification Renewal Contract requires the following information to be submitted to CCOF: Updates on any pending requests for information or noncompliance issues. Updated OSP, detailing any... Read more

Recordkeeping and organization are important aspects of certification so we have created helpful documents and sample forms to assist our clients with these challenges.  Our Complete Organic Farm Certification Support Package provides a convenient collection of sample forms and documents designed to help you understand organic certification requirements and maintain the appropriate records. We... Read more

Recordkeeping and organization are important aspects of certification so we have created helpful documents and sample forms to assist our clients with these challenges. Our Complete Organic Farm Certification Support Package provides a convenient collection of sample forms and documents designed to help you understand organic certification requirements and maintain the appropriate records. We... Read more

The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) (7 CFR Part 205) is CCOF’s primary certification standard. Copies of the USDA NOP standards are available to download or purchase. All application packets sent by U.S. mail include a copy of the USDA NOP standards.

We provide additional services as needed for ensuring access to international markets. These include certification to the EU’s EEC... Read more

An amendment to an existing registration is required when an operation has one or more of the following changes to their registration:

Addition of new facilities or growing locations in California Change of ownership Addition of production acreage A  change/addition of operation type(s).

A registrant shall notify the Department of any change in the information reported on the... Read more

This list details the most common situations that require you to send information or documentation to CCOF, and what type of information you'll need to send. Read through this list and contact your Certification Service Specialist with additional questions.    I want to change something in my Organic System Plan (OSP), what should I send? Update your OSP forms and send them to CCOF for review and... Read more

Any time you are considering a change to your organic production, you must update your Organic System Plan before making any changes and submit the update to ccof@ccof.org for review. Updating your OSP before making changes helps your operation avoid a Notice of Noncompliance and possible suspension of your certification. This includes changes to the following:

Change in management or... Read more

Visit our Organic Seed Resources page for details on seed requirements or our list of seed suppliers who carry organic seed.

Your diligence in sourcing organic seed helps to strengthen the organic seed sector.