CCOF Certification for Stellar Certification Operations

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On July 31, 2018, Stellar Certification Services is ceasing to certify organic operations. Stellar is the organic certification sister organization of Demeter USA, the U.S.’ biodynamic certification organization.

CCOF, Stellar and Demeter are pleased to announce a partnership to help ease the burden on Stellar’s organic certified entities. While operations currently certified organic by Stellar may choose any USDA accredited certifier, CCOF is working with Demeter and Stellar to make the process easy and streamlined.  

CCOF is working with Demeter to utilize current inspectors so operations keep existing inspectors and schedules and to combine Demeter and CCOF inspections wherever possible.

Under our partnership CCOF is licensing Stellar’s name and logo, which will become a recognized seal and certifier identification under CCOF until December 31, 2021. After this date, operations will be required to identify CCOF on labels. This allows operations far greater flexibility regarding how quickly they update their labels to identify CCOF. Wineries are particularly benefited as this is a busy time for them and label processes are complicated for alcohol. Upon certification by CCOF, any Stellar certified operation may choose to use the CCOF name or seal and has access to CCOF’s innovative “Organic is Non-GMO and More” seal.

In all cases, operations must undergo an inspection and recertification, but the process is reasonable and operations may submit their existing OSP and a streamlined application to get started. CCOF is working with Demeter to share Organic System Plans and to perform dual biodynamic and organic inspections as quickly as possible.

Also, under this partnership Demeter is also supporting the CCOF Foundation as a donor so operations choosing to certify with CCOF are contributing to our work to help make organic the norm.

We are excited to work together and support the needs of the dedicated farmers and processors at both Stellar and Demeter and see opportunities for synergy and alignment of our core missions. It’s an honor to work with the dedicated movement-oriented farmers, processors, staff and inspectors at all the involved operations.

What can CCOF offer you?

  • Competitive pricing—a $125 certification fee in 2018, plus inspection costs. You can determine what your fees will be beginning in January 2019.
  • The ability to begin the process by completing a single application and contract form. Simply download an application.
  • No new OSP. CCOF will work with you to review our existing OSP and slowly transition to the CCOF version over time. There is no need to complete a new OSP initially. We’ll assess the existing plan and only ask about what we need to know. Later, you have the option of completing your Organic System Plan (OSP) on paper or on your computer with electronic documents.
  • No need to change labels that utilize the Stellar name or logo until 2021.
  • Dual Biodynamic and Organic Inspections whenever possible. We are making every effort to align inspections, utilize inspectors you already know and combine inspections now and in the future.
  • Dedicated, highly trained staff, including a designated Certification Service Specialist for each operation.
  • MyCCOF, a free online tool for certification management, including Materials Search to help you find approved inputs and processing aids.
  • GLOBALG.A.P. food safety certification for organic farms.
  • Listing in CCOF’s online directory to promote your business.
  • Regional and industry networking, and educational opportunities.
  • International and Canadian market access.

How long do Stellar-certified operations have to find a new certifier?

Operations currently certified organic by Stellar have until September 30, 2018 to choose a new certifier and download an application. If a Stellar-certified operation chooses to apply for CCOF certification, they will have additional time to complete the transfer of certification after the application is submitted.

If an operation does not inform the NOP that it is applying for certification with another certifier or surrendering certification by September 30, the NOP will issue the operation a noncompliance, which may lead to suspension or revocation of the operation’s organic certification.

Is my Stellar Certification at risk?

No. Existing Stellar certifications remain valid unless surrendered, suspended or revoked. As long as you make progress and file an application with a new certifier by September 30, 2018 your will remain certified while you work with a new certifier. If you do not apply and begin the process and/or are not making progress with a new certifier the National Organic Program, may begin a proposed suspension process some time after September 30, 2018.

What if I was recently inspected or have not been inspected?

Don’t worry. In either case your certification is valid. The main priority is working with a new certifier in a reasonable time frame to re-establish a new certification.

Why should I choose CCOF soon?

The advantage of choosing CCOF quickly is that it gives us the best chances of aligning with Demeter biodynamic inspections, bundling with other trips and can help if you have new land, products or other new elements in your certification.

Katrina Frey, Director of Sales and Marketing at Frey Vineyards, recently transferred certification from Stellar to CCOF and had this to say: “We at Frey Vineyards have been friends of the people at CCOF for many years. Recently, we worked with them again for organic certification and it was smooth and helpful. We think they’re a great option to work with as operations make a decision moving forward.”

What if a Stellar-certified operation has an inventory of labels that indicate that the product is certified organic by Stellar?

Those operations that choose CCOF as their new certifier will have until December 31, 2021 to change labels. Operations that choose another certifier may use up existing inventory or labels, however only with CCOF may you reprint and use existing labels until December 31, 2021.

What if I have new labels or products now?

We recommend communicating with both us and Stellar prior to July 30th, 2018 so that we can ensure the most efficient process and help ensure little or no interruption to your operation.

Do you have more questions?

We’re here to help. Get more information about what this means for Stellar-certified operations and how CCOF can help those businesses move forward. Please contact us at getcertified@ccof.org or at (831) 423-2263 with your questions.