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Improving Organic Standards

by Rachel Witte |

This year, CCOF is working with clients, the National Organic Program (NOP), and others to improve organic standards in a variety of ways. In addition to an ongoing focus on natural resources, we are working to improve a variety of areas to maximize confidence and ensure a level playing field for everyone. We will achieve this by a combination of focused inspections, testing, and modifications to systems or requirements. Our goal is to communicate with affected parties and give reasonable time frames for transition wherever warranted. As policies or efforts are finalized, we will publish them in Certification News on the CCOF website, in the newsletter, and through direct communication.

Potential upcoming changes to certification requirements or processes include:

  • Improving oversight of at-risk imported grain shipments, currently corn, wheat, and soy from Eastern Europe, Turkey, and non-EU member states. Under this program, incoming shipments of organic grain must be identified and traced to certified growers in their country of origin. Visit for more information. We expect this approach to be implemented by many certifiers and possibly as a national requirement.
  • Clarification of NOP expectations regarding 120-day and 30 percent dry matter intake requirements for livestock. While 120 is a minimum for number of days on pasture, the standards require grazing to occur whenever possible and to be maximized throughout the year.
  • A project in collaboration with Oregon Tilth to clarify requirements for non-certified brokers of animals and how slaughter stock is identified during sale, which will eliminate uncertified animal brokers while ensuring that ineligible dairy animals are not sold for organic slaughter.
  • Adjustments to requirements to fully comply with the NOP’s guidance regarding uncertified facilities and who must be certified. Handlers will be required to ensure that uncertified suppliers are fully exempt or excluded. Suppliers that handle, re-label, or otherwise mix or change loads may be required to seek certification. Over a reasonable time, we will request that handlers who utilize uncertified suppliers complete an assessment to ensure the operations are legitimately exempt or excluded from certification under the USDA National Organic Program.
  • Expanded GMO testing. To follow up on some marketplace concerns identified by the California State Organic Program, we have expanded our GMO testing program in 2017. Our focus is primarily on animal feeds. We will be working with operations to identify the cause of any positive findings and ensure that appropriate efforts are in place to support organic integrity.