Certifying Bodies provide organic certification services under the Canadian Organic regime. As an important service provider for organic farms, choosing a Certifying Body to fit your farm and business goals will help you in a successful transition to organics. Read the article below for help on How to Choose a Certifying Body.
Here are some questions you should ask the agencies and some things to ask neighbouring farmers.
Do you certify other farms or operations of my type?
The agency should be familiar with your type of production —dairy, vegetables, sheep, grapes, nut trees, maple syrup,
food processing—so your certification goes smoothly.
Do you certify other farms in my region?
The cost of certification typically is shared between many producers in a region. It makes sense to share expenses for
the inspector’s mileage, food, and lodging with other area farmers, rather than having to carry the financial burden of
these costs on your own.
How do you charge for organic certification services?
Some agencies charge a flat fee plus a surcharge based on the dollar value of your yearly organic sales. Others have a
sliding scale dependant on your anticipated organic sales, or on the amount of acreage of various commodities. In addition, some charge a fee to review each purchased crop or animal production input (fertilizers, animal health materials,
feed supplements, pest control products, etc.). There may be an extra “membership” fee or “administrative” fee.
Make sure you have a clear picture of all costs before you apply.
How quickly can you inspect and certify my farm once I have submitted my application?
If you are scheduled to sell organic milk by a certain date, wish to sell your corn crop out of the field, or have early
spinach to sell, make sure the agency can complete the process in your time frame, so you are legally able to sell your
product as organic when it is ready.
Ask other farmers in your region:
• Are you happy with the service you received?
• Does someone answer the phone or return calls promptly?
• Does the agency help you with the certification process?
• Does it provide blank on-farm audit trail template documents for farmers to use?
• Does it have a newsletter about new production methods or changes in the marketplace or government regulations?
• Does the agency offer educational activities or field days?
• Are policies and materials easy to understand and use?
• How long did you wait for the inspection to occur, the file to be reviewed, and the certificate to be issued?
Talk to buyers of organic commodities, especially the projected buyer for your crop.
If your buyer has a certification agency preference, make sure you are certified by that agency to save the cost of being
certified by a different agency when you try to sell your crop or product. If the buyer wants your organic product
to be approved for sale to foreign countries, there may be special inspection requirements.