Organic certification under the USDA National Organic Program is voluntary.
However, once you have applied to a certifier for certification, an annual on-site inspection of your operation and an updated Organic System Plan is required to obtain or maintain certification.
Preparing for Inspection
The following DOCUMENTS must be made available by the producer/farmer to the inspector at the time of inspection.
1. All receipts for seeds/planting stock, fertility and pest/disease/weed management inputs, contracted services, and equipment rental.
2. Complete activity logs, such as input, harvest, and sales records. Processing/handling operations should have receiving logs, operational manual, sanitation logs, pest control logs, shipping records, sales invoices, and documentation of all applicable sanitation permits.
3. Most recent version of your Organic System Plan (OSP) and all documents that form your operation’s audit trail, for example: seed and stock sources, field maps, purchase records of materials used in production or processing, logs of field activity or processing activity, lot numbering system, commercial non-availability documents. Labels and materials used for selling and/or marketing your produce.
4. A map of the property illustrating cropping areas, borders and boundaries, prevailing wind direction and slope of land, and a north arrow. Any agreements with or affidavits from neighbors regarding activities on adjacent land.
5. Labels for all materials in use: fertilizers; weed, pest and disease controls; and other inputs. Material data safety sheets.
General Guidelines for Inspection
1. Allow plenty of time for the inspection. It is in the best interest of the producer for the inspector to have the time to be thorough. Generally, a crop inspection takes from two to five hours. Processing/handling inspection and inspections of larger operations may require more time.
2. If possible, have all managers and operators present. Most importantly, have the person in charge of record keeping available.
3. Be prepared to walk or drive around the perimeter of each parcel or structure in the operation. Be ready to show any equipment, materials, storage areas, propagation facilities, packing, and storage areas in the operation.
4. Before starting the site inspection, the inspector will explain and sign a confidentiality agreement between you and your certifier. If you are concerned about proprietary information, please make known what details are of particular importance to your privacy. You will be asked to sign the form thus providing your consent for the inspection to occur.