Innovative Approaches to Organic Certification

From livestock to residues, unannounced inspections, and materials, CCOF is always trying to stay ahead of the curve.

Have you heard about our Livestock Unannounced Compliance Initiative? The “LUCI” program was launched the 2008. This innovative program is leading U.S. organic certifiers in their approach to organic dairy inspections. In fact, the National Organic Program liked it so much that they asked CCOF to write about it for the April/May 2011 National Organic Program newsletter; check out page five.

The LUCI program affirms the value of organic integrity initiatives and has taught us very valuable lessons about tackling issues head-on.The success of this program came from applying dedicated management, well-trained personnel, and scarce organizational resources to a specific certification challenge. Plus, we love a new program with a catchy name! Read our full description of the LUCI program.

Following the LUCI model, we launched the “CCOF Troika” program in 2010, combining elements of pesticide residue testing, expanded unannounced inspections, and a pilot farmers’ market inspection program. We’ve refined our pesticide residue testing processes during this time and are fully prepared to implement the final standards that will likely require all certifiers to perform residue testing on an annual basis. CCOF has not found residues on any products we’ve tested under this program but we have implemented investigations in response to testing by others.

We strongly supported the National Organic Standards Board’s recommendations regarding organic inspector qualifications and unannounced inspections. We launched a continuing education requirement for all CCOF inspectors in 2011 to ensure that our inspectors continue to develop their skills and knowledge. We have also performed unannounced inspections for years and fully support the NOP in making this a required part of the accreditation process.

Our latest task is improving our approach to managing and tracking materials and inputs our clients use in production. We have been working to modify our approach to tracking client materials and allowed inputs since 2010. On March 19, we launched the “Inputs Evolution.” This giant step uses the best of CCOF’s database systems and provides clients and inspectors up-to-the minute access to what materials we’ve approved for the individual client to use in their organic system. Look out for an article on the Materials Evolution in the next issue of Certified Organic, future blog posts, and webinars this year. We have more ideas that will lead to further developments aimed at meeting client’s needs, such as the ability to search for inputs and modify this part of the Organic System Plan online.

In the meantime, CCOF clients should visit MyCCOF to view their online materials list.

We like to say that “CCOF Gathers No Moss” and have even made a mug, distributed to our staff, that says so! These new programs and processes are how we prove it.